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A Lawyer’s Take On Speeding and Pedestrian Safety In Sarasota


As attorneys helping clients in Sarasota over the past 20 years, we have seen time and time again, that speeding is a big factor in far too many serious crashes in our area. Speeding is a root cause of many dangers on the roads and when drivers are careless or even negligent speeding can result in life-altering consequences for both victims and drivers, especially when it comes to the safety of pedestrians.

Speeding: A Constant Issue On Sarasota Roads

While many behaviors can compromise driving safety, speeding stands out. It transforms near-misses into actual collisions, mild crashes into severe ones, and severe accidents into fatalities. Over the years, I’ve analyzed countless collisions where the outcome might have been different had the drivers not been speeding.

Technological Advancements in Vehicle Safety

Recent decades have seen remarkable advancements in-car technologies. Features like side impact intrusion resistance have significantly increased the chances of surviving collisions that would have been fatal in the past. However, these protective measures primarily benefit vehicle occupants.

The Vulnerability of Pedestrians

Pedestrians, cyclists, children, and the elderly don’t have the luxury of these protective technologies. They share the road with vehicles without the benefit of steel safety cages, seat belts, or airbags. When a speeding vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the results can be catastrophic. Roads like US 41, US 301 and University Parkway make matters worse – the bad combination of a 4-lane high-speed road, with nearby residential areas bringing foot traffic and bicyclists.

A 1999 NHTSA report titled “Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries” provides a serious look at the relationship between vehicle speed and pedestrian injury severity. The data consistently shows that as a vehicle’s speed increases, the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality rises dramatically.

Impact Of Speeding In Car Accidents

20 mph Impact: At this speed, typically found in school zones, about 5% of pedestrians would not survive a collision. In a sample of 20 individuals, this translates to one fatality, 13 with injuries, and six walking away unharmed.

30 mph Impact: Common in urban and suburban areas, a collision at this speed sees the fatality rate jump to 45%. In our sample of 20, nine would succumb to their injuries, ten would be injured, and only one would likely escape unscathed.

40 mph Impact: On roads with this speed limit, the fatality rate soars to 95%. Out of 20 pedestrians, 19 would likely not survive.

The Science Behind the Statistics

The dramatic shift in survival rates with speed is due to the principles of kinetic energy. As speed (or velocity) increases, the kinetic energy rises exponentially, not linearly. This means even a small increase in speed can result in a significant increase in the force of impact.

Global Initiatives to Curb Speeding

Recognizing the dangers of speeding, several cities worldwide are taking proactive measures. New York City, for instance, reduced its default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. Similarly, London has made adjustments to its speed limits. The results are promising: not only do traffic fatalities decrease with reduced speed, but the overall number of accidents also diminishes. A mere 1 percent reduction in speed can lead to a 2 percent drop in automobile accidents.

The Importance of Local Law Enforcement

Merely lowering speed limits isn’t the solution. Effective publicity and stringent enforcement are crucial. Police departments must actively communicate the new speed limits to the public and penalize those who refuse to obey the rules.

Florida Infrastructure and Awareness in Cities

Chicago, while not altering its default speed limit, is making strides in other areas. The city is introducing protected bike lanes, ensuring a safer distance between cyclists and vehicles. Additionally, Chicago emphasizes the legal obligation drivers have to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Some high-risk crosswalks even provide pedestrians with fluorescent yellow or orange flags to increase visibility while crossing, ensuring drivers notice and yield to them.

Local Impacts Of Speeding in Sarasota

Sarasota, with its mix of busy streets, residential areas, and tourist spots, sees a diverse range of pedestrians. Given this, adherence to speed limits becomes even more crucial. As global cities take steps to enhance pedestrian safety, Sarasota can draw inspiration and implement similar measures.

Potential Measures for Enhanced Pedestrian Safety In Sarasota

While Sarasota boasts a unique charm, it’s essential to prioritize pedestrian safety. Here are some measures Sarasota could consider:

Pedestrian-Only Zones: Designate certain areas, especially those with high foot traffic, as pedestrian-only zones during specific times.

Improved Crosswalks: Upgrade crosswalks with better lighting, raised pedestrian crossings, and countdown timers to give pedestrians a clear idea of how much time they have to cross.

Traffic Calming Measures: Implement speed bumps, chicanes, and roundabouts in areas with frequent pedestrian activity to naturally slow down vehicles.

Educational Campaigns: Launch city-wide campaigns emphasizing the importance of pedestrian safety and the dangers of speeding.

Enhanced Signage: Increase the number of signs indicating pedestrian crossings, school zones, and other areas where drivers need to be extra cautious.

Regular Safety Audits: Conduct periodic reviews of high-risk areas and make necessary infrastructure changes based on findings.

Community Engagement: Engage with local communities, like Gulf Gate, Vamo, or the Rosemary District to understand their concerns and get feedback on proposed safety measures.

Sarasota Speed Limits and Driver Personal Responsibility

While there’s a case to be made for revisiting speed limits in certain areas, it’s paramount that drivers adhere to the existing ones. Speeding not only jeopardizes the driver’s safety but also significantly reduces the survival odds of any pedestrian they might encounter.

Speeding is a choice, and it’s one with grave consequences, especially for the most vulnerable road users. As drivers, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. Before pressing harder on the accelerator, consider the potential impact on someone’s life.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an auto accident in Sarasota, the team at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh is here to assist. Understanding your rights can be crucial in such situations.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

A Lawyer’s Take On Speeding and Pedestrian Safety In Sarasota

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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