Walk on the Sidewalk, Drive on the Interstate

Every year, our beautiful region welcomes millions of people – to Disney World, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center, Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys – we are surrounded by magnificent attractions that people from all over the world want to experience for themselves.

We Welcome Visitors – But Not Accidents

This influx of visitors means more vehicles on the road and more individuals to be cautious of while driving. Along with these tourists, our own fellow Floridians are often pedestrians when they are involved in road accidents, especially along the Interstate Highway System.

Florida Highways & Pedestrian Injury

Here in Florida, there are four primary interstate highways and eight auxiliary highways. A ninth auxiliary highway has been recently proposed near Jacksonville. The longest of these interstates is I-75, which extends over 470 miles, making it the longest interstate in any state east of the Mississippi River. The shortest is I-395, which runs just 1.292 miles and provides an essential link between Miami and South Beach. I-395 also serves as a vital link to the Port of Miami and offers spectacular views. As crucial as these roads are for transportation of people and goods, they also present a huge safety concern to any person who may be walking along them. For example, I-75 maintains its 70 mph speed limit for its entire length while the sights on I-395 can easily distract drivers.

Pedestrian Safety in Florida?

Rarely a day goes by that congestion, construction or an accident isn’t reported on our own North-South Expressway (I-95), Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) or Dolphin Expressway (I-836). Similar problems exist on the nearby Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869) and the Port Everglades Expressway (I-595). Many of those accidents involve a pedestrian. In fact, a recent study sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that an average of 515 pedestrians were struck and killed by a motor vehicle on the U.S. Interstate Highway System each year from 1993 to 2012.

Being killed on an interstate highway accounts for 10 percent of all pedestrian fatalities annually. Florida was the third worst state in the nation for pedestrian interstate fatalities, with 656 deaths over that 20-year period.

Understanding the Data

Using information available in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia, the study further ascertained that nearly three in four vehicles that struck a pedestrian on the interstate were cars and light trucks, while nearly one in five vehicles was a large truck. Just over half of the accidents happened on a weekday, while just under half occurred in dark, unlit conditions. The weather was clear or cloudy for more than nine in ten pedestrian fatalities on the interstate and 75 percent occurred between 6:00 PM and 5:59 AM.

“Unintended Pedestrians”

Although pedestrians can enter an interstate on purpose (though that is often illegal), many become “unintended” pedestrians when their vehicle is disabled by a crash or other incident. The study determined that during the 20-year period, just over 75 percent of the pedestrians were reported to have been on the roadway prior to impact, while 15 percent were on the shoulder or in the parking lane. One of the study’s most informative conclusions was that drivers who experience mechanical problems or are involved in a crash without serious injuries should carefully move their vehicle as far away from the roadway as possible and remain in their vehicle until help arrives.

Example Accident

A recent accident in December 2014 certainly reflects many of the AAA study’s findings. A woman driving on I-75 at night within the 50,000-acre Big Cypress Seminole Reservation struck and killed a black bear on the roadway. This occurred in an area known as “Alligator Alley” and, at one time, informally referred to as “Death Alley.” A second vehicle stopped and three people got out to help, but were killed when a third vehicle crashed into them. A total of eight people were injured, four critically. Even though black bear sightings in that part of the state are not uncommon, it was believed to be the first accident in the region involving one. Although an unusual accident, what is unfortunately all too common is its contribution to the statistic of pedestrians hurt and killed on the interstate.

If you've been injured in a pedestrian accident or if you are the survivor of someone who was killed by a negligent driver, the Miami injury attorneys at Stabinski and Funt, P.A. can help by reviewing your case and discussing all available legal options. For further discussion on this topic and a free initial consultation, contact us by calling (305) 643-3100 or using our online inquiry form. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless pedestrian collision victims and their families throughout South Florida. Let us help you.

DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).

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