According to the results of a recent study, eight of the most dangerous metropolitan communities for pedestrians in the U.S. are located in Florida.
Smart Growth America is an organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on promoting walkable cities. Last week, the group released a report called Smart Growth America’s Pedestrian Danger Index, which Bloomberg reports compares census data with traffic fatality statistics to evaluate the areas in the nation where pedestrians are at the highest risk. Eight of the top-ten most dangerous cities for pedestrians are located in Florida, and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area ranks as number 11.
According to the authors of this report, much of the blame for high rates of pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to street design. The report concludes, “Everyone involved in the street design process — from federal policymakers to local elected leaders to transportation engineers — must take action to end pedestrian deaths. So long as streets are built to prioritize high speeds at the cost of pedestrian safety, this will remain a problem. And as the nation’s population grows older on the whole, and as we become more diverse both racially and economically, the need for these safety improvements will only become more dire in years to come.”
In Florida, the largest boom in population took place after World War II, when gasoline was affordable and it was common to plan cities around cars instead of people. Another reason behind Florida’s pedestrian fatality statistics is also demographics: many people in Florida walk out of necessity, whereas pedestrians in more wealthy areas walk not for transportation but for pleasure or exercise.
In addition to the ranking of Florida as the most dangerous state for pedestrians, the Pedestrian Danger Index report also shares some sobering statistics on pedestrian accidents and fatalities nationwide. NPR broke down some of the more relevant and interesting stats:
- Between 2005 and 2014, a total of 46,149 people were struck and killed by cars while walking — an average of 13 people per day.
- People of color are over-represented among those pedestrians killed. Non-white people are 34.9 percent of the U.S. population, but make up 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths.
- In certain places, this disparity is especially stark. In North Dakota, Native Americans are five percent of the population, but account for nearly 38 percent of pedestrian deaths.
- People 65 years or older are also in particular danger: They are 50 percent more likely than younger people to be killed by a car while walking.
- Danger to pedestrians is strongly correlated with median household income and the rate of people without health insurance — meaning that those who can least afford to be injured often live in what appear to be the most dangerous places to walk.
During the 10-year period studied in this report, there were 5,142 pedestrians killed by a car in Florida, though the majority of those deaths occurred in the northern part of the state.
Florida is and will always be a vacation destination, where many visitors expect to focus more on fun than on responsibility. This means that both pedestrians and motorists may be more likely to be distracted or intoxicated on our roadways, and that is a recipe for disaster. As personal injury lawyers with a strong presence in Florida, we have helped a number of plaintiffs affected by pedestrian accidents recover compensation from negligent parties, including a settlement for a 66-year-old pedestrian who suffered broken bones after being struck by a vehicle. To learn more about how we can help you pursue justice after suffering injury or the wrongful death of a loved one, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.