For the first time in five years, fatal pedestrian accidents increased in 2010, according to a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). In the first six months of 2010, fatal car accidents across the country decreased but during the same time period fatal pedestrian accidents increased by 0.4%. Before 2010, pedestrian fatalities had actually been dropping for four years.
Florida may have special reasons to worry. According to the report, Florida ranked second for highest individual increase in pedestrian fatalities. Only Arizona saw a greater jump in pedestrian deaths. In Florida, there were 482 pedestrian fatalities and 7500 pedestrian injures in 2009. Between January 2010 and June 2010, 245 people died in Florida pedestrian accidents. That’s an average of 35 more deaths in 2010 during just the first six months of the year.
According to the GHSA report, the emphasis on exercise may be pushing more pedestrians to walk outdoors, which can mean more accidents. Another factor, according to the report’s experts, is increased distraction. Pedestrians who use texting devices, listen to music, or engage in conversations while walking may not notice dangers around them. Alcohol and controlled substances may also be an issue. According to GHSA Vice Chairman Troy E. Costales, over 50% of fatal pedestrian accidents in 2010 involved an intoxicated pedestrian. According to the GHSA report, there are many things that communities can do to reduce pedestrian accidents and fatalities:
1) Make pedestrian safety a priority and allot money and resources to pedestrian safety measures. Adding more signs, creating pedestrian-only zones for walkers and adding more money to law enforcement and safety awareness can help make the streets safer for pedestrians.
2) Get more information about pedestrian issues. Analyzing crash information or conducting safety audits can help communities identify and target areas that are especially dangerous for pedestrians.
3) Improve pedestrian infrastructure. Adding pedestrian walking trails away from roads is one solution. Pedestrian-activated red stop lights can also make shared road and walk spaces safer. Some communities have had success by increasing pedestrian crosswalks and by designating more roadway space for pedestrians.
4) Create good laws and practice good enforcement. Some states have created laws which require cars to come to a full stop when pedestrians are in crosswalks. New Kersey and Hawaii enforce their pedestrian laws by having un-uniformed police officers walk across crosswalks to see how many cars stop. Cars who fail to stop or yield are ticketed by nearby officers.
5) Create good educational programs. Teaching pedestrians about safe walking habits is important. For example, educational programs that teach children to cross streets safely and educational awareness campaigns that teach pedestrians about the dangers of being distracted when crossing the street can help keep everyone a little safer.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida pedestrian accident, contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free initial consultation. You can ask questions about your case and get information about your options. The Flaxman Law Group has helped thousands of personal injury victims in Miami, Homestead, Hollywood, and surrounding South Florida communities. Call us today to find out why plaintiffs trust our experience and negotiating skills.