In the last decade (from 2000-2011), Florida has garnered a reputation as America’s most dangerous state for pedestrians. According to NHTSA’s 2011 Traffic Safety Facts, which was published August 2013, Florida has the highest pedestrian fatality rate among all states, with 2.57 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 persons. Read on to find out why walking by the road in what’s known as the Sunshine State may be a risky business for your health and safety.
In 2011, Florida represented only 6% of the total U.S. population. What’s alarming is, it accounted for 11% of the overall U.S. pedestrian fatalities and 17.4% of bicycle fatalities. According to Dangerous by Design 2011 Report that’s made for Transportation for America, the top four most dangerous large metro areas are all located in Florida. These areas are 1) Orlando-Kissimmee with 255.4 Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), 2) Tampa St. Petersburg-Clearwater (212.7 PDI), 3) Jacksonville (177.8 PDI), and 4) Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (167.9 PDI). The PDI is calculated by dividing the average yearly fatality rate for a particular metro area by the percentage of commuters walking to work.
Dangerous by Design’s analysis is that most of the metro areas on their list have seen rapid growth in the past decades of low-density development, characterized by high-speed urban road that are particularly hazardous for walking. It was also revealed in the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that most fatal pedestrian crashes in the U.S. occur on wider, higher capacity, and high-speed roads dubbed as arterials. Out of the 47,067 pedestrians killed over the last ten years, more than 52% died on principal or minor arterials. These roads are typically designed with four or more lanes and for high travel speeds.
It is the pedestrian’s responsibility to ensure his own safety. However, data from Florida DOT Crash Analysis Reporting (CAR) System revealed the otherwise. It says that most pedestrian crashes happen at midblock locations without a crosswalk—29% percent of those involved in pedestrian crashes were crossing somewhere other than at intersections, where crosswalks are usually situated.
According to FDOT’s impaired driving data by county analysis, the total number of pedestrian fatalities, injuries and crashes in Florida that were caused by alcohol impaired driving are as follows: 336 for 2009, 778 for 2010, and 924 in 2011. Florida’s DHSMV 2008-2011 data also revealed that around 10% of all pedestrians involved in crashes were under the influence of alcohol when the incidents occurred.
NHTSA’s Safety Reminders for Pedestrians:
- Walk on a sidewalk whenever they are available.
- If there’s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic as far away from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times.
- Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles.
- Be predictable as a pedestrian.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
- Stay off of freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment too.