Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

When crowds and cars don’t mix

Pedestrians and bikers are a staple of most urban areas, including Miami. Many have embraced these methods of transportation as a healthy and economic alternative to automobiles.

Unfortunately, these beneficial modes of transportation also carry a tremendous amount of risk. Pedestrians and bicycle riders are some of the most vulnerable individuals on city streets. Accidents with cars, trucks and other vehicles can result in serious and often fatal injuries.

One deadly accident example in NYC

The vulnerability of pedestrians was illustrated last month in New York City. A car ran down pedestrians in Times Square, killing one woman and injuring 22 others. The car, which drove recklessly down the sidewalk for more than three blocks, was driven by a man who was found to be under the influence of PCP, which is a powerful mind-altering drug.

While this incident is extreme, it brings to light just how dangerous city streets can be for pedestrians and bicycles.

Pedestrian safety in Florida

You may think that pedestrians are safer in Miami, and in Florida in general, than in higher-populated areas like New York City. One recent study shows that this is far from the case.

Earlier this year, a report was released called Dangerous by Design 2016 that examined the nationwide epidemic of pedestrian fatalities. In addition to statistic by state, the report also contains accident data from 2005 to 2014 for 104 of the country’s largest metro areas.

The report found Florida to be the most dangerous state overall for pedestrians, with 5,142 total deaths from 2005 to 2014, and an annual fatality rate of 2.66 per 100,000 people. Compare that to New York’s ranking of 38th most dangerous state, with 3,007 total deaths and a rate of 1.53 per 100,000 people, and the national average of 1.47 deaths per year.

Florida cities didn’t fare much better. In fact, our state claimed nine of the top eleven most dangerous metro areas:

  1. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
  2. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
  3. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
  4. Jacksonville, FL
  5. Deltona-Daytona Bach-Ormond Beach, FL
  6. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
  7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  8. Jackson, MS
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
  11. Miami-Fort Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

New York City, by comparison, ranked at number 95.

Ways to improve safety for pedestrians and bicycles

The best way for states and cities to make streets safer for pedestrians as well as bicyclists is to improve how roads are designed. While this can be a slow process, it is important to encourage elected leaders to improve pedestrian safety on a local, state and national level.

As a driver, you can do your part by being more cautious and aware of pedestrians and bicycles on city streets. Check closely for people on foot or bike before you turn and watch for them as you are driving.

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