With the abundant sunshine and pleasant outdoor weather in Florida, the number of people on foot here makes our state one of the most dangerous when it comes to pedestrian safety. It’s no surprise to realize that a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle will likely suffer serious injuries, most often to the head, neck and spinal column. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has identified Florida as a target for increased resources and educational efforts in an effort to reduce the numbers of pedestrians injured or killed on our roads. FHA works closely with state and local governments to administer programs aimed at keeping Florida’s pedestrians safe.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department, there were 502 pedestrian fatalities statewide in 2008. This means that 16.8% of all traffic fatalities were pedestrians. Additionally, there were 7,878 pedestrian injuries in the same year.
While most people might assume that alcohol is involved in only those accidents where the vehicle driver is impaired, drinking is a major problem with pedestrians in traffic crashes. 10.3% (922) of all pedestrians in crashes (8,951) had been drinking, and 36.25% (182) of all pedestrian fatalities (502) had been drinking. According to the statistics compiled by the State, the majority of pedestrians injured or killed in 2008 were either crossing the road in mid-block, walking alongside the road, working on their vehicle while in the road, working on the roadway itself or standing on a pedestrian island.
Of course, many pedestrian accidents occur in seemingly safe environments, such as in parking lots or walking along a sidewalk. In most cases, driver negligence is the cause of these types of accidents, as drivers often fail to use proper caution, or engage in unsafe driving practices, when encountering a pedestrian. The bulk of pedestrian accidents occur at night, when poor visibility plays a major role in the crash.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, some of the most common types of pedestrian accidents include:
• A pedestrian is hit while a vehicle was turning or preparing to turn at an intersection.
• A pedestrian is hit in a mid-block collision where the pedestrian entered the driver’s field of view leaving little or no time to react.
• A pedestrian is struck in a parking lot or other non-roadway area.
• A pedestrian is struck while walking or jogging along the side of the road, going with the traffic.
• A pedestrian is running through an intersection (as opposed to mid-block).
• A backing vehicle strikes a pedestrian.
Florida personal injury lawyers remind you of these safety tips to keep you from becoming a pedestrian accident victim:
• Cross at designated intersections and crosswalks only. Many pedestrians are injured because they try to cross the street without using crosswalks.
• Walk on sidewalks and pedestrian bridges where possible. These areas are no-car zones and are therefore the safest places to walk.
• When crossing streets at intersections, look left, right and left again to ensure that you have a safe way to cross. Even if you have right of way, not all cars will stop.
• Stay visible. Wear clothing that is easily visible to drivers for the weather conditions. If you are walking at night, make sure your clothes have reflective material or bring a flashlight.
• Stay alert. Walking after drinking can be deadly. You can veer into the road or make mistakes when crossing the street. Even wearing headphones can prevent you from hearing horns and other warnings.
• Don’t let children play on streets or near them. Children often can’t judge car distances, and may not be able to understand safe pedestrian practices.
“Our firm has represented many victims of pedestrian accidents, and the majority of them could easily have been avoided, had the correct safety precautions been used”, says Senior Attorney Bruce L. Scheiner of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers law firm. “Here is just an example of the cases we’ve handled.”
$200,000: Recovered for a 53-year-old Naples woman who was backed into by a newspaper delivery vehicle while walking with her husband.
$100,000: Recovered for a 51-year-old Tennessee woman who was walking her dogs in Sebring, FL when she was struck by a vehicle. This client suffered a fractured back and other injuries. Both dogs were killed.
If you or someone you love has been struck by a vehicle while crossing the street or walking through a parking lot, please visit www.focusedonjustice.com, or call 1-800-DialBLS to learn more about our 38-year history of helping those involved in pedestrian accidents.