Florida wins again, but again this definitely not good news to pedestrians. According to a recent study, Florida has the honor of having the greatest rate of pedestrian wrongful deaths from car accidents in America. Incredibly, pedestrians in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Parkland are four times more likely to die in a car accident than in places like Boston or even New York. And while the study blames pedestrians for being distracted by their phones, being intoxicated and crossing outside of marked crosswalks, more attention is being placed upon the roadways themselves.
Florida’s older roadways, which were not designed for active populations, often times play an integral role in pedestrian accidents. Specifically, pedestrian friendly sidewalks and crosswalks are lacking along many roadways which are shared with cars driving at what used to be considered as highway speeds. Pedestrians seeking to cross roadways usually have to walk great distances to access a crosswalk, often 1000 feet away. While common sense should cause pedestrians to use those crosswalks, most people cross where they are, rather than walking 1000 feet out of their way.
Those of us who live in more westerly cities, which were originally built decades ago when most of the land was agricultural, know that many roads were built without any adjoining sidewalks. Now as the population has shifted towards the suburbs, many residents now confront dangerous roadway conditions on a daily basis. The Florida Department of Transportation has begun to address our outdated roadways but taking efforts to reduce driver speeds, such as by making narrower vehicle lanes and placing trees closer to the roadways.
Pedestrian centric cities take great efforts to make roadways safer for pedestrians to cross, by limiting the width of residential streets to 25 feet, allowing pedestrians a greater opportunity to avoid traffic. Other roadway design decisions which those cities have implemented include making all intersections more difficult for divers to make fast turns, and re-timing crosswalk signals to allow pedestrians more time to cross before vehicles can drive.
While it remains true that pedestrians and motorists need to act properly to keep themselves safe, many times the fault for a pedestrian accident can be the road itself.