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.
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.
Likewise, motorcycle riders are expected to be out in force this summer, as riding is a great way to get outside and enjoy the day without violating social-distancing restrictions and recommendations. While it remains to be seen what impact the pandemic has on pedestrian accidents, the combination of record unemployment among low-wage earners, and the six-month break from school, has likely put more walkers on Southwest Florida sidewalks, to say nothing of those who have made a walk part of their daily routine in an attempt to break the monotony and isolation.
Cyclists, Pedestrians, Motorcycle Riders at Highest Risk of Serious Injury
The trend is concerning because Florida already leads the nation in all three categories — with more bicycle, pedestrian and motorcycle accidents than anywhere else in the country. Southwest Florida, in particular, has been singled out as among the most dangerous places in the nation for walkers.
Recently released statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illustrate the risks to these vulnerable road users. In the vast majority of cases, a walker or rider is seriously injured or killed in a collision with a vehicle. The vehicle’s driver is most often at fault. While nationwide fatalities declined slightly for the third year in a row, the Southeast Region, including Florida, was the only place in the nation to report an increase in deadly crashes.
The NHTSA recognizes the growing risks for walkers and cyclists and has already launched a program aimed at those new to the sidewalks as a result of the pandemic. The agency is offering safety tips for both walkers and drivers. Motorists are always best served by giving walkers and riders the right-of-way as it is always worth a few seconds to reduce the risks of being blamed for such a tragedy.
Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral have focused exclusively on representation of the injured in Southwest Florida since 1971. These are complex cases that often involve life-changing injury, long-term disabilities and limited insurance coverage. Identifying all of the responsible parties and building a comprehensible and collectible claim for damages is best left to a law firm with extensive experience fighting for the rights of victims and their families.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.