Pedestrian fatalities are the highest they have been in a decade, and the
state of Florida ranks among the most dangerous in the country for walkers.
In fact, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach ranked as the 11th most
dangerous metropolitan communities for pedestrians in a recent report
from Smart Growth America. In response to this issue, government agencies
in South Florida are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety and reduce
the number of fatalities.
South Florida doesn’t fare well nationally when it comes to protecting
pedestrians and bicyclists. We look at how crashes involving walkers and
cyclists occur, and what Florida is doing to improve road safety for these
About the Report
Smart Growth America's report, which was entitled "Dangerous by
Design," ranks all 50 states and the 104 largest metropolitan areas
in the country according to their relative danger for pedestrians. To
measure danger for pedestrians, the researchers used a "Pedestrian
Danger Index," which utilizes data on pedestrian deaths, population
size and the number of people who usually commute on foot in the area.
The study covered a 10-year period ending in 2014. During this time, Florida
saw a total of 5,142 pedestrian deaths. The number of deaths in South
Florida during this time was 1,508.
In the country as a whole, more than 46,000 pedestrians were killed in
the ten years covered by the report, which translates to 13 deaths every
day. In fact, Americans were approximately seven times more likely to
die while walking by a road than to die during a natural disaster. Older
adults and minorities are more likely to die as pedestrians than other people.
What Causes Pedestrian Deaths?
According to the report, some of the factors contributing to pedestrian
deaths include poor pedestrian infrastructure and poor street design.
Streets with fast-moving vehicles are more dangerous than those with slower
traffic. Other factors that may contribute to pedestrian deaths include
unsafe walking practices, distracted driving and walking or driving under
the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What Is South Florida Doing to Protect Pedestrians?
To combat the high number of pedestrian deaths, certain government agencies
in South Florida are being proactive about pedestrian safety. For example,
the City of Miami Beach has implemented a cyclist and pedestrian safety
initiative designed to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths through
both stronger enforcement of laws and better education. This program has
been in place for five years. It is sponsored by the University of South
Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Under this program, High Visibility Enforcement Detail Squads will spend
time educating people who walk near high-traffic intersections about safe
pedestrian and driver behavior. Eventually, the HVE squads will begin
issuing warnings and citations for unsafe behaviors. The program has also
published pedestrian and cyclist safety messages in electronic newsletters,
in magazines and on social media. This safety campaign is expected to
run from December through May.
Safety for Cyclists
Like pedestrians, cyclists are also at an increased risk of fatal accidents
when on the road in South Florida. In fact, Miami ranks as the fourth
most dangerous city for cyclists in all of the United States.
From 2010 to 2014, 47 people were killed while cycling in Miami. At least
three of these cyclists were killed on the iconic Rickenbacker Causeway,
one of the most scenic bridges in the area. To reduce the danger for cyclists,
organizations in Miami are working for safer conditions. One such effort
is headed by the Plan Z project, which aims to create an elevated bicycle
path connecting Key Biscayne to Miami. This project would allow cyclists
to ride safely over the cars below, on their own dedicated path.
Plan Z would provide more than a simple bike path. Because of climate change,
the Rickenbacker Causeway is already in need of structural renovations
this project would provide. In addition, the proposal includes plans for
a waterfront park.
Justice for Pedestrian and Cyclist Accident Victims
If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else’s
negligence or recklessness is responsible for your injuries, the attorneys
at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. can help. For 45 years, we have been the
trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families
throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on
a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any
fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. Contact us today
by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a
free case evaluation form to find out how we can help you.