According to a recent study by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America, Florida has some of the highest wrongful death rates in the nation for pedestrians.
Specifically, these two Washington DC-based nonprofits found that Florida has the dubious distinction of being home to the top four most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians with over 1 million residents (Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, and Jacksonville).
Federal crash statistics from 2008 (the most current year for which such statistics are available) would seem to support this proposition: 11.1% of all pedestrians and 17.4% of all bicyclists killed in traffic-related accidents in the United States died in the state of Florida.
Both the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America attribute these findings to the gradual shift in development patterns. Instead of development (both urban and residential) taking place around traditional existing streets, it is now taking place near large, high speed and high volume roads. This translates into an increased risk for those on foot or on a bicycle.
Chief Safety Officer for the Florida Department of Transportation, Marianne Trussell disagrees with this assessment. According to Trussel, it’s not the roads that are dangerous, but the negligent behavior of both motorists and pedestrians.
“Drivers are making a right turn and not yielding to pedestrians, or making a right turn on red. Pedestrians are not paying attention to traffic, or they’re crossing the street midblock instead of going to the intersection.”
Despite these disagreements, both sides seem to agree that at least three causes can be attributed to the higher wrongful death rates for pedestrians and bicyclists in Florida:
• Rapid population growth: Florida is one of the fastest growing states. It has roughly seven times as many people as it did 60 years ago
• Favorable weather: People spend more time walking, running and biking because of the warmer weather.
• Tourism: In 2009, 80.3 million people traveled to Florida for tourist purposes.
Here’s hoping the state can find a way to address these truly staggering statistics …
• Florida Deadliest State for Walkers, Cyclists (USA Today)