2015 the Deadliest Year for Pedestrians in Hillsborough County
On January 9, 2016, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Hillsborough County, Florida now holds the dubious distinction of trumping its own record for pedestrian deaths in a single year. Indeed, 51 pedestrians died in the Tampa Bay area in 2015 alone, up from just 38 in the prior year. This nearly 50 percent increase is utterly shocking.
Reasons Not Yet Explained
The fact that 51 people lost their lives due to pedestrian accidents is bad enough. What’s worse, we do not have a real answer for why. Those interviewed, like Beth Alden, executive director for the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the increase might be attributed to the combination of roadways with high speeds and a large volume of businesses. This may explain the problem. In places like Dale Mabry, there are entire communities within a short walking distance of many restaurants, businesses and shops. Yet, despite the low speed limits, Dale Mabry is known for high-speed travel, with many drivers exceeding 70 MPH on a regular basis. Otherwise, the news story illustrates the seemingly random nature of pedestrian accidents in Tampa Bay. They occur in all sorts of settings.
Florida the Most Dangerous State for Pedestrians
Perhaps contrary to what one might assume, the most dangerous places for pedestrians are not Chicago, New York or even Los Angeles. In fact, New York Metro ranks 50th, Chicago is at 38th, and L.A. only gets up to 27th place. So where are the riskiest places to travel on foot? Florida. Indeed, the Sunshine State has the dubious distinction of being home to the four most dangerous places for pedestrians, according to the New York Times, which recently reported data provided by the nonprofit group, Transportation for America. In order from first to fourth are Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami.
Why the High Number of Pedestrian Deaths in Florida?
While there is no definitive answer, anecdotal evidence suggests that high pedestrian injury and death rates might be attributed to several factors. First, Florida has year-round good weather. As such, our state is home to many outdoors activities that encourage people to get outside and walk all year long. Unlike New York or Chicago, where residents are unable to spend extended time outdoors for several months each year due to inclement weather, Florida residents and visitors get to be outside all the time.
While each metropolitan area of the state may have different factors to consider, Florida on the whole is a seasonal home to over half a million long-term visitors each year. Likewise, with many theme parks and attractions that draw visitors from all over the world, Florida welcomes many people each year who are unfamiliar with our traffic laws and who might not be familiar with their surroundings. Finally, with the rapid growth of cities like Tampa and Jacksonville, there are often problems building adequate sidewalks and pedestrian friendly walking areas. Indeed, as the Tampa Bay Times suggests, Florida’s culture is vehicle-centered.
Staying Safe on Foot
When walking to work or to and from attractions, it is important to keep your eyes open and remain alert. Many people now use smart phones to traverse unfamiliar territory. And while walking directions can be very helpful, it is best to plan each path in advance, walk to the next point, and then pull out the phone to check your next direction of travel. You are just welcoming an accident if you walk with your head down looking at a map or phone. Similarly, wear bright clothing and try not to walk on or along busy roadways late at night, when drivers may be fatigued or intoxicated, or when visibility is at its worst.
If you or someone you know is injured in a pedestrian crash, contact a Florida pedestrian accident lawyer at the Romero Law Firm today. There may be strict time limits on getting the compensation you need and deserve.