Articles Posted in Pedestrians/Bicyclists

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is joining forces with local law enforcement this October to bring attention to National Pedestrian Safety Month.

Our pedestrian injury lawyers have written extensively about the epidemic of serious and fatal pedestrian collisions throughout Florida. South Florida, in particular, has been repeatedly cited as the most dangerous location in the nation for walkers, with Cape Coral, Orlando, and Miami all making the list of 5 most dangerous metro areas in the country for pedestrians.intersection1-300x225

“Last year, we lost more than 700 Floridians – our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers – in senseless and preventable pedestrian-involved crashes,” said FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “Pedestrian safety is not a one-way street – it’s the responsibility of all road users, and it’s crucial that motorists and pedestrians alike stay alert and look out for one another’s safety.

Last year, more than 8,000 pedestrian collisions in Florida claimed 712 lives, accounting for 1 in every 5 traffic fatalities. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports Florida pedestrian deaths declined by 2 percent last year, the first decline in more than a decade. However, the state still ranked deadliest in the nation behind California, which was the only state to report more than 1,000 walking deaths.

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Pedestrians were already at high risk before the pandemic. Particularly in Southwest Florida, which has consistently ranked among the nation’s deadliest locations for pedestrians. A lack of infrastructure like streetlights and sidewalks, urban sprawl, a significant transient population, and explosive growth have all been factors that have contributed to the risks.

But now there is evidence that the coronavirus pandemic has made walking even more dangerous. pedestriansafety-1-225x300

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports the number of fatal pedestrian accidents increased in 27 states, despite reductions in overall traffic as a result of pandemic restrictions.

Nearly 3,000 pedestrians were killed, an increase of 20 percent, despite a 16.5 percent decrease in traffic.

“Walking should not be a life and death undertaking, yet many factors have combined to put pedestrians at historical levels of risk,” Jonathan Adkins, the group’s executive director, said in a news release. Florida was among 7 states that accounted for more than half of all traffic deaths. The others were Arizona, California, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

The number of pedestrian deaths is on the rise nationwide. Walkers now account for 1 in 6 traffic deaths, up from about 1 in 8 in 2010.

Alcohol is often a contributing factor, with more than half of all fatal collisions involving an intoxicated driver or walker.

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With the time change, comes later light. While this is a welcome change for many, including tourist destinations, restaurants and other local businesses trying to recover from COVID-19 restrictions, it also makes for dark mornings, especially over the next month as Southwest Florida days lengthen toward summer.

Numerous studies have been done on many aspects of Dayintersection1-300x225light Savings Time, with mixed results. Until the 1800s, cities set their clocks by the sun. While this could result in minor differences, it worked for everyone until the trains needed to run on time. By the start of the 1900s, time zones had been established but it was not until World War 1 that Daylight Savings Time became standard in the United States.

Moving the clocks ahead an hour in the spring and back in the fall was believed to save energy consumption by providing more evening light. Several studies have found that is not the case, largely because people remain active later into the evening, visiting shops, restaurants and other destination locations.

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The inaugural Pedestrian Safety Month launches this week as the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and safety advocates continue to address the rising number of walkers being killed in traffic collisions.

Our Fort Myers injury lawyers have written extensively on this blog about the epidemic of serious and fatal collisions victimizing our most vulnerable road users, including walkers, cyclists and motorcycle riders. South Florida in particular has been identified as among the deadliest locations in America for walkers, with Cape Coral being signaled out as frequently the most dangerous location in America. intersection1-300x225

Nationwide, the number of pedestrian deaths has increased significantly in the last decade as urban centers have revitalized. Explosive growth in places like Southwest Florida has also impacted the safety of walkers, particularly as it relates to pedestrians. E-scooters and rental bicycles have added to the risks. And the COVID pandemic has prompted a record number of bicyclists and pedestrians to take to the streets in favor of socially distanced modes of travel and physical activity.

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New statistics and growing anecdotal evidence suggest our most vulnerable road users may not be benefiting from the reprieve we have seen in serious automobile accidents during the three months Southwest Florida has hunkered down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Our experienced injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers highlighted the likely risk as COVID restrictions began in mid-March. Pedestrian Injuries a Spring Risk in Southwest Florida and Pandemic Scare has More People Cycling in Southwest Florida both highlighted the fact that our most vulnerable road users have always faced high risks, but the coronavirus pandemic may actually be increasing the dangers. intersection1-300x225

Certainly, that is holding true when it comes to cyclists. Media outlets nationwide are reporting a huge increase in demand for bicycles, with many locations reporting long wait lists for cycles under $2,000. The News-Press recently reported bicycle sales in Lee and Collier county are up more than 100 percent compared to the same period last year.

Law enforcement safety campaigns and media stories continue to draw attention to the severe risks faced by vulnerable road users this time of year, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians.

Operation Vision Zero was launched in Central Florida, according to Chanel 6 News in Orlando. More than a dozen law enforcement agencies are participating in the enforcement blitz through March 31. The effort aims to stop hundreds of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic-safety laws.bicycle11-225x300

The effort follows a report by ABC Action News in Tampa, which highlighted the fact that Florida is one of just 5 states that account for half the nation’s pedestrian deaths. Continue reading ›

The tragic death of a woman walking her dog in South Fort Myers is a sobering reminder of the risks faced by pedestrians in Southwest Florida.

Kate Johnson of Fort Myers and her beloved dog, Diva, were walking when they were struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. WINK News reports loved ones have purchased a billboard and taken other steps to locate the at-fault driver. It was a light-colored Nissan that hit Johnson and her dog, and the driver left them to die along McGregor Boulevard at the intersection with Water Lane.schoolbusstop-300x225

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Early darkness and Halloween are a dangerous time of year for pedestrian accidents, particularly those involving younger children in residential neighborhoods. The most dangerous time is right at dusk.halloween-1322330-300x225

But our Fort Myers injury lawyers know Halloween is also a time of year of increased accident and injury risks from other causes. Defective product injuries increase around Halloween and remain elevated through the long holiday gift-giving season. Injuries on private property, drunk driving collisions, and an increasing number of injury incidents at organized events, including the well-publicized tragedy at the 2015 Zombicon in downtown Fort Myers, have made Halloween among the most dangerous times of the year.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projects a slight decline in the final tally of traffic fatalities in 2018, even as the number of pedestrian and bicycle deaths continues to rise.

Overall traffic deaths are projected to decline by 1 percent, Forbes reported. However, pedestrian deaths were up 4 percent last year, while bicycle deaths surged 10 percent. Both were already at historic highs. Nationwide, more than 36,000 people were killed on the roads last year. pedestriansafety-225x300

Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers note Southwest Florida continues to be one of the deadliest areas in the nation for bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports California, Florida and Texas annually report the highest number of pedestrian deaths. All three states join Arizona and Georgia in reporting more than 100 pedestrian deaths a year and together account for nearly half of the nation’s fatal pedestrian accidents.

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Distracted walking is in the news as the nation grapples with significant increases in the number of serious and fatal pedestrian accidents.

Unfortunately, Florida is all too familiar with the crisis, as the Sunshine State leads the nation in the number of walkers who are injured or killed each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 5,000 deaths and 76,000 injuries caused by pedestrian accidents each year; that’s one death every two hours. And, as the Miami Herald reported recently, 9 of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida.pedestriandistraction-300x208

Fort Myers injury lawyers know the increased risks faced by walkers are attributable to a number of factors, including lack of proper infrastructure such as sidewalks and street lights, distraction on the part of both the walker and drivers, and the growing prevalence of electric or otherwise silent vehicles.

A study published in 2012 by researchers from New York’s Stony Brook University found that those who texted while walking were 60 percent more likely to veer off course. Headphones are another growing problem. F.S. 316.304 prohibits drivers from wearing headphones, although no such law exists for pedestrian or cyclists.

But, while it’s true distracted walking can increase accident risks, the issue of distracted walking is also being pushed by the insurance industry as a way to reduce the liability of insured drivers for collisions that typically result in very serious or fatal injuries.

 

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