Whether you regularly walk to work or just occasionally park your car and walk to a downtown location, you have been a pedestrian at some point in time. And with year-round warm weather and vibrant cities that encourage exploration, Florida should be the perfect place to be a pedestrian.
Sadly, that’s not the case. Of the five worst cities for pedestrian accidents, four of them – Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami – are right here in the Sunshine State. It’s not exactly a ranking our state should be proud of.
Of course, it’s not just Florida that has a problem with pedestrian accidents. Nationwide in 2010, there was a pedestrian death every two hours and a pedestrian injury every eight minutes. In 2011, while the number of car crashes decreased, the number of pedestrian accidents went up.
When pedestrians are involved in an accident with a motorcycle, car, or truck, the results are often horrifying. Even vehicles traveling at relatively low speeds can do serious damage, and the pedestrian fatality rate nearly doubles when vehicle speed increases from just 25 to 35 mph. Those pedestrians who do survive an accident with a larger vehicle often suffer bad injuries that require expensive medical treatment and a long time to recover – if they ever fully do. If you or a loved one has been a pedestrian in a traffic accident in South Florida, call Lawlor, White & Murphey to learn more about the compensation you may be entitled to.
After reading the statistics above, you may be wondering why there are so many pedestrian accidents every year, especially in Florida. There are a number of potential factors at play, many of which are interconnected. A few major reasons for these accidents include:
Distracted drivers. Florida has banned texting while driving, but it’s only a secondary offense and the fine is low enough that the law isn’t much of a deterrent. Texting isn’t the only potential distraction for drivers, either. Talking on the phone, fiddling with GPS settings, putting on make-up, turning to talk to a passenger in the back seat – anything that causes drivers to take their eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, may cause them to miss seeing a pedestrian in their path.
Alcohol. Because alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction time, a drunk driver may not be able to react in time to a pedestrian crossing the road, may not see the pedestrian, or may swerve off the road because they can’t control their car. Drunk driving is a problem nationwide, but it is particularly bad in Florida’s big cities, where the thriving nightlife may result in people getting behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.
Lack of pedestrian safety education. Both drivers and pedestrians put themselves at greater risk of getting into an accident by not understanding the rules of the road as well as general safety precautions. For example, some pedestrians may assume that because they are entering a crosswalk with the signal, they will be safe. In reality, pedestrians should always look in both directions before crossing, even when they have the right of way. Likewise, drivers need to realize that it is the law to stop at crosswalks and flashing red lights to let pedestrians cross.
City infrastructure. With high speed limits and not enough pedestrian-specific walkways, there are some urban areas in Florida that put pedestrians at risk simply because they are not able to stay far enough away from vehicle traffic. Walkers or joggers who travel along the side of the road in the same direction of traffic are at an increased risk for being hit by a car or truck.
Limited visibility. Individual pedestrians are a lot smaller than motor vehicles and can be particularly hard to see after dark or at dusk. Additionally, drivers may not be looking for pedestrians as they back out of a parking space or driveway, or may not see a pedestrian entering the intersection as they make a turn.
The impact of a vehicle hitting a body at even just 20 or 25 miles per hour can cause debilitating injuries, and a high speed collision almost always results in death for the pedestrian. Some common injuries that those pedestrians who live may experience include:
Road rash. Some of a pedestrian’s skin may be scraped off against the rough pavement, leaving the area raw and potentially bleeding. Road rash can get worse if it becomes infected, and anyone who experiences severe road rash should seek medical attention.
Blood loss. If victims are cut in the collision with a vehicle or the skin is punctured by protruding bones or other causes, they may lose a significant amount of blood quickly.
Broken or fractured bones. Pedestrians can break bones either from colliding with a vehicle or the pavement. Even hairline fractures can be excruciatingly painful, and the pelvis, sternum, ribs, and skull may all be fractured in bad accidents.
Brain injuries. People who suffer a brain injury in a pedestrian accident may find that their ability to think, reason, and remember has been diminished, or that they can no longer perform basic functions on their own and require long-term care.
Spinal cord injuries. If a pedestrian’s spinal cord is crushed in a traffic accident, they may become paralyzed in the legs, upper body, or both.
Being in a pedestrian accident or losing a loved one in this way can be devastating, and you may not even know where to turn next. In addition to attempting to recover, you may also be struggling with medical expenses, the loss of the ability to earn an income, or even funeral expenses. During this difficult time, you shouldn’t have to worry about your financial situation on top of everything else.
Lawlor, White & Murphey is here to help the victims of negligent or reckless drivers. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that our clients pay nothing until we recover the compensation they deserve. Schedule a free consultation with us today by calling 954-525-2345 (South Florida) or toll-free at 855-347-5475. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our short online case form, and one of our attorneys will contact you promptly.