La'Rae H. Hendrix P.A.

Pedestrian fatalities increase, growing concern

A Florida man was struck and killed earlier this month while walking or standing in traffic during night time hours in Orange Park, becoming the latest pedestrian fatality in our state. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities have steadily increased through the years, alarming city and community leaders, safety experts and the public.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States in 2016, representing an 11 percent increase from the previous year. The jump in pedestrian deaths outpaced other traffic-related fatalities.

Most pedestrian fatalities occur at night

In Florida, pedestrian deaths climbed nearly 9 percent in the first six months of 2016. During that time, 301 pedestrian deaths were recorded in the state, compared with 277 during the same period in 2015.The GHSA report noted that 74 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened at night, like the one we mentioned earlier; and that 72 percent of pedestrians were killed not crossing at intersections.

Top causes of pedestrian fatalities

The top three causes of pedestrian fatalities are:

  • Speeding: If pedestrians are struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, they have a 10 percent chance of dying. If they are struck at 40 mph, they have an 80 percent chance of being killed.
  • Failure to yield: Don’t assume that a driver will yield to you even if you have the right of way.
  • Distractions: More and more drivers and pedestrians are distracted by electronic devices, staring down and looking at their phones not paying attention to their surroundings.

Alcohol also was a contributing factor. Roughly 15 percent of the pedestrians killed annually are struck by a drunken driver, and 34 percent of pedestrians killed were drunk, too.

Safety tips for any pedestrian

We’ve assembled some tips that will help provide safe journeys for pedestrians.

  • Stop, look in both directions to make sure the road is safe to cross.
  • Cross the street at designated intersections and crosswalks.
  • Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking along highways and roadways where pedestrians are prohibited. If a sidewalk is not available, walk on the shoulder and face traffic.
  • Make sure you are visible to drivers. Wear light-colored, bright or reflective clothing. Use a flashlight including a head-mounted one if walking at night.
  • Make eye contact with drivers in stopped vehicles. This will confirm that they see you when you are crossing the street.
  • Follow traffic rules, the signs and signals.
  • Avoid distractions. Put away your phone and don’t wear headphones. You need to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Educate your children about the potential dangers of walking or playing near traffic.

Some cities are looking at ways to improve safety by considering lowering speed limits, improving road designs and building more sidewalks. Pedestrians are typically the most vulnerable users of the road. Be aware of your surroundings and on the alert of drivers.


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