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Pedestrian Deaths Becoming an Epidemic

When it comes to the injury risks in Southwest Florida, it’s hard to overstate the risk of walking.

Nationwide, the risks have reached epidemic levels, and Florida has long been the deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians.

NPR reported this week that pedestrian deaths have reached levels not seen in decades. A new report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association identified 6,227 pedestrians who were killed by motor vehicles last year.

As our injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers recently reported, Florida is the deadliest state in the nation for pedestrian accidents. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral area is among 8 metro areas in Florida to be named to the nation’s 10 deadliest areas for walkers, according to Smart Growth America’s report, Dangerous by Design, which largely focuses on inadequate infrastructure, like sidewalks and crosswalks.

Already in 2019, a number of high-profile pedestrian deaths have occurred, including the death of a young North Fort Myers girl who was struck by a car while walking to a bus stop in an area without sidewalks.

Nationwide, more walkers were killed last year than in any year since 1990.

“While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent” since 2008, GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said.

Causes of Pedestrian Deaths in SWFL

There are many factors that increase the risk to walkers. Even America’s love affair with Sport Utility Vehicles is having an impact, as the GHSA reports impacts with larger vehicles are less likely to be survivable. Other factors include:

Distraction: You know the risks. Still far too many motorists are guilty of using their phone while driving. And, as we recently reported on our Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, Florida lawmakers have done little to address the risks. Walkers are particularly vulnerable. If you strike a pedestrian, at any speed, serious or fatal injuries are likely to result.

Poor infrastructure: We all know the frustration of sitting in Southwest Florida traffic. The roads have not kept up with the demand, and far too often bike lanes, sidewalks, signals and crosswalks have been an afterthought. This is particularly true in less wealthy areas of the county, where residents are more likely to walk and/or use public transportation.

Aggressive driving: Season is a busy time. Far too many drivers allow travel frustrations to boil over. When pedestrians get in the way, they don’t stand a chance.

Parking lots: We have written before about the risk of parking lots. Far too many drivers let their guard down upon entering a parking lot. However, statistically parking lots are among the most likely location for a pedestrian collision.

Pedestrian behavior: Using sidewalks and crosswalks, where available, and obeying traffic laws, will help keep you safe. A disproportionate number of pedestrian accidents occur after dark, so wearing lighter colored clothing may help keep you more visible.¬†Under Florida’s laws of contributory negligence, a pedestrian in some cases may still collect damages from an at-fault driver even if the pedestrian is found partially responsible for an accident.

Our pedestrian accident attorneys understand proving fault is only a partial victory without identifying adequate means of recovery. In addition to an at-fault driver’s insurance policy, victims may also be entitled to benefits under their own policy.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.