The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has been working on a new campaign, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow…Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident” to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents across Florida. The agency’s goal is to reduce fatal pedestrian traffic accidents 20% by the year 2015. If successful, this would help save about 15 lives annually.
The new safety and education campaign will make use of transit ads, TV, and social media to spread information and tips on preventing traffic accidents. The agency will also team up with local law enforcement and schools to help spread the message. FDOT has also said that it will step up traffic enforcement and reconsider engineering solutions to help reduce instances of traffic fatalities in the state. Experts hope that the new campaign will help prevent serious pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Miami and across Florida.
There is certainly room for improvement. According to FDOT, Florida’s rate of fatal pedestrian accidents is twice the national average. This means that across the state 10 pedestrians and 2.3 bicyclists, on average, are killed weekly. FDOT’s three-pronged approach seems promising because it will involve a focus on:
1) Engineering. Many car collisions in Miami and across the state are caused by poor signs and poor roadway conditions. Changing these conditions can help prevent fatalities, injuries, and expensive legal action caused by these poor road conditions. For example, adding sidewalks in areas where there are no sidewalks can help prevent some pedestrian accidents in Miami. Adding bicycle lanes is important in preventing bicycle accidents. Some research has also suggested that different types of signs may be more effective in helping to prevent traffic accidents.
2) Education. Educating motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists is vital in preventing traffic collisions in Miami and other communities. Motorists need to be taught to focus on the road and to avoid distracted driving. Pedestrians need to be reminded to take extra precautions when walking – especially when walking at night or when walking in higher-traffic areas without sidewalks.
3) Enforcement. Pursuing those who violate traffic rules is important in sending out the message that unsafe driving will not be tolerated in Florida. Vigilant enforcement can help prevent reckless driving and some drunk driving accidents in Miami.
Another issue that could potentially help protect bicyclists and pedestrians are legislative changes. Some experts and advocacy groups believe that changing laws – in order to ban texting and driving, for example, or in order to make penalties for reckless driving harsher – would help discourage unsafe drivers and would give injury victims more options in pursuing justice.