How big of a problem are pedestrian accidents?

Motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accidents are a major problem in Florida.  Studies have shown that of the top ten cities in the USA where motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accidents occur, the top four of those cities are located in Florida. National statistics available from 2008 reveal that 11% of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents and 17.4% of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle-bicycle accidents were killed in Florida – despite Florida having only 6% of the country’s total population.

Prior to 2010, Florida statistics were encouraging. Our state actually experienced a trend in decreasing fatal pedestrian accidents between the years of 2004 thru 2009. According to a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in the first six months of 2010, fatal car accidents nationwide decreased but during the same time period fatal pedestrian accidents in Florida increased by almost 1/2 percent.  According to that 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.

The GHSA report suggested the push for people to engage in more exercise may be influencing a greater number of pedestrians to walk outdoors, resulting in more accidents. Increased distraction may also be a contributing factor an increase in motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Activities such as texting, talking on cell phones, listening to music or simply engaging in conversation with other pedestrians may cause people not to be aware of the hazards around them and make them more susceptible to being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian encounter. Unquestionably the consumption of alcohol and controlled substances presents additional risks and dangers. According to the GHSA report, more than half of fatal pedestrian accidents reported in 2010 involved an intoxicated pedestrian. With all these risks and danger present on our streets, is there anything that we can do to minimize the frequency of motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accidents?  Some possible solutions are as follows:

State and national governments must make it a priority to allocate funds to support programs aimed at pedestrian safety. Making new laws is not the only answer. Provide funding for increased law enforcement involvement and increased pedestrian safety awareness. Add more warning signs and create pedestrian-only areas for the exclusive use of walkers.

Conduct more studies to gather information about pedestrian issues. Analyzing crash information or conducting safety audits can help communities identify and target areas that are especially dangerous for pedestrians.

Strive to improve pedestrian infrastructure. Constructing pedestrian walking trails in locations away from roads is one answer. Install stoplight switches that can be activated by pedestrians could assist in making shared road and walk spaces safer. Increased pedestrian crosswalks and designating more roadway space for pedestrians could additionally enhance safety.

Good laws and good enforcement of those laws can have a dramatic effect reducing motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Draft laws, which require cars to come to a full stop when pedestrians are in crosswalks. Having plain clothes law enforcement personnel patrol crosswalks and give out citations to those who fail to stop would undoubtedly encourage drivers to exercise more caution when traveling through intersections.

Education is a powerful tool in promoting prevention.  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.

While no one ever expects to be involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, statistics show you are more likely to experience that type of accident in Florida than anywhere else in this nation. When involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, the assistance of an experienced, aggressive attorney is invaluable to protect your rights and insure you get all the benefits you may be entitled to. Dan Newlin & partners are exactly those types of attorneys, always fighting for everything their clients are entitled to. Their experience of handling over 10,000 personal injury cases, and dealing with most major insurance companies, allows them the ability answer all of your questions in a timely and professional manner and to maximize the value of your case insuring that you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to. If you have any questions about what rights you may have as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, or any other type of accident, please call Dan Newlin  & Partners at (407) 888-8000.