Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Pedestrian Accidents in Boca Raton Florida
Walking is a great way to get exercise, save money on gas, and take in the sights around Florida and our country as a whole. It would be nice if we could walk without having to worry about getting into an accident with a car or truck, but unfortunately, pedestrian accidents happen every day.
Florida’s metro areas are particularly infamous for their pedestrian fatalities. In fact, of the top 5 most dangerous US cities for pedestrians, Florida cities hold the top 4 spots! Orlando is the most dangerous, followed by Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami. These rankings certainly aren’t anything to be proud of and should convince drivers, pedestrians, and lawmakers to take traffic safety very seriously.
Nationally, the pedestrian accident statistics are also worrying. According to the Department of Transportation, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 were injured in traffic accidents in just one year. If you want to a look at it another way, that’s one pedestrian fatality every two hours and one injury every eight minutes.
Nobody wants to be involved in any kind of traffic accident, but pedestrian accidents are particularly horrible because people on foot have nothing to protect them when a car weighing several tons barrels into them. Even parking lot accidents when cars are traveling at a low speed can prove fatal to pedestrians, especially children and the elderly.
Why Do These Pedestrian Accidents Keep Happening?
There’s no easy explanation as to why Florida has such a high rate of pedestrian fatalities, but there are several major factors at play. The warmer climates and street-side attractions in Florida’s cities encourage people to travel on foot, but our state doesn’t have enough safety-focused measures or designated pedestrian walkways to prevent accidents. High speed limits and people who drive over the speed limit are also a huge problem: according to one report, there is a 45% chance of a fatality when a pedestrian is struck by a car traveling at 30 mph, and that goes up to 85% when a car is going just 10 mph faster.
Other common causes of pedestrian-vehicle accidents include:
- Intoxicated drivers
- Intoxicated pedestrians
- Distracted driving, such as texting or talking on a cell phone
- Ignoring pedestrian warning signs, such as crosswalks or school zones
- Drivers trying to pass a stopped school bus
- Lack of visibility
- Pedestrians crossing at non-designated area
- Drivers jumping a curb
- Malfunctioning traffic signs
- Improperly designed intersections
- Drivers or pedestrians who are unfamiliar with the area
- Pedestrians walking against traffic on a roadway
In the above examples, there are obviously some situations where fault could be with the driver and others where fault could be with the pedestrian, but in almost all cases, the pedestrian is hurt much more seriously than the driver. Sadly, a number of these cases even involve a hit-and-run, where a driver panics and doesn’t stop to offer aid to the pedestrian that they’ve injured. You’d think something like that wouldn’t happen very often, but in 2012 there were almost 70,000 hit-and-run accidents and 168 hit-and-run deaths in Florida.
Common Injuries to Pedestrians in Accidents
Pedestrian-vehicle accidents can result in a wide range of injuries or even death. Some of the most common injuries to pedestrians hit by a car or truck are:
- Torn ligaments
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Nerve damage
- Brain injuries
- Emotional trauma
What Drivers and Pedestrians Can Do To Be Safe
So, should pedestrians simply stop walking in order to avoid being in an accident? This is obviously not a practical solution; after all, we are all pedestrians at certain times, even if we’re just walking through a parking lot or crossing the street to get to our destination. We shouldn’t have to fear for our lives every time we walk somewhere.
Luckily, there are precautions that both drivers and pedestrians can take in order to minimize the odds of being in an accident. Here are a few things pedestrians can do:
- Stay off your phone while walking. It seems that our cultural addiction to cell phones is a major problem for pedestrians. According to a recent study from Ohio State University, accidents in which a pedestrian was distracted by their phone have more than doubled since 2005, with 1,500 people being treated in emergency rooms for cell-phone related incidences in 2010 alone. If you’re walking somewhere, stay off your phone until you get to your destination, or step away from other pedestrians and vehicle traffic if you do have to get your phone out.
- Cross in designated areas. Whenever possible, cross using intersections and crosswalks, and wait until the traffic light indicates that you have the right of way. If there is no crosswalk near you, make sure that you have a clear sightline in both directions and are sure that no cars are coming. Avoid crossing in non-designated areas with high speed limits whenever possible.
- Wear bright colors or reflective gear at night. If you have to walk somewhere after dark, make sure that you wear bright clothes or reflective gear so that cars can see you when you cross the street.
- Stick to pedestrian walkways whenever possible. Staying on sidewalks, crossing sky bridges, or taking specific pedestrian paths are all good ways to keep yourself separated from vehicle traffic and therefore decrease your odds of being in an accident.
- Don’t drink and walk. Obviously walking home after having too many drinks at the bar is better than driving, but intoxicated walkers have increased odds of being injured in a traffic accident. If you feel too impaired to drive, you may also be too impaired to walk; instead, call a cab or a sober friend for a ride.
Of course, it’s not just pedestrians who are responsible for being safe. Here are a few things drivers can do to minimize their odds of hitting a pedestrian:
- Always have a plan to get home after drinking. That means a plan that doesn’t involve driving. Due to their impaired judgment and slower reaction times, drunk drivers are much more likely than sober drivers to hit a pedestrian. Find a designated driver, call a cab, or take public transportation—just don’t be a danger on the road.
- Don’t be a distracted driver. It’s already illegal for drivers in Florida to text behind the wheel, but talking on your cell phone, eating fast food, fiddling with the radio, or really doing anything that takes your focus off the road are all things that increase your chances of not seeing a pedestrian until it’s too late.
- Pay attention to all traffic signs. Those signs telling you that you’re entering a school zone or that there’s a crosswalk ahead are there for a reason. It’s your responsibility as a driver to pay attention to all traffic signs and warnings—and to follow them.
- Don’t speed. You shouldn’t do this anyway, but speeding in an area with lots of pedestrians means that you won’t be able to react and stop as quickly if a pedestrian does decide to cross in front of you.
- Be careful in parking lots. Always go slowly when driving through a parking lot and look behind you when you’re pulling out of a parking spot. You also need to watch for pedestrians when you’re backing out of a driveway or any other space.
Sadly, not all drivers follow these basic safety rules, and there are situations where even a pedestrian who is being cautious can be a casualty in an accident. If you were injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, or if you have lost a loved one at the hands of a reckless driver, you deserve justice. Work with a knowledgeable and experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in Florida in order to get the compensation you and your family need.
Injured in or near Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach and Fort Lauderdale? Let the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida work for you. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a cent until you receive compensation for your injuries. Set up your free consultation today by calling us at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca & West Palm Beach, or Toll-Free at 877-566-8759. You can also fill out a case evaluation form here.