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Has the Pandemic Affected Pedestrians in Florida’s Suncoast?

Pedestrians have always been a high-risk group in Florida’s Suncoast for accidents, particularly in areas where we have some of the highest-ranked deadliest locations for pedestrians. Due to a lack of infrastructure, including streetlights and sidewalks, and growing populations, these are all factors that contribute to a pedestrian’s risk of injury.

However, the pandemic has made it even more dangerous for pedestrians to be out. In fact, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported that the number of fatal pedestrian accidents actually increased in 27 states. Approximately 3,000 pedestrians have been killed, which is also a 20 percent increase, despite a decrease in the amount of traffic we have seen.

Seven states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, and Texas, reported a higher instance of pedestrian deaths since 2020 and accounted for more than half of all traffic deaths.

A Surge in Biking and Walking

During the pandemic, many people have rediscovered the advantages of walking and biking as the means of primary transportation. This has opened Florida’s eyes to the importance of this kind of transportation. However, with more pedestrians walking and biking, the risk of injury also increases, as you can see from the statistics mentioned above.

To help cut down the risk to pedestrians, it is important to revisit the safety of the roadways and determine if any low-cost interventions can be implemented to make it safer for everyone, including new signage, the use of traffic cones, and concrete barriers.

Pedestrian Injuries

Some of the more common causes of pedestrian injury include distracted drivers, impaired drivers, recklessness, bad weather, road construction, and impatient drivers. When a motorist drives too fast in unsafe conditions, it heightens a pedestrian’s risk of injury. This is because the motorist’s reaction time is slower, the conditions don’t allow for a quick response, and the pedestrians are the ones that suffer.

To minimize risk, drivers need to respect the risk a pedestrian takes and allow them the right of way. Even if you are involved in a slow-speed accident, it can result in serious injury for the pedestrian and massive liability for the motorist.
Pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings and avoid walking in unfamiliar locations and at night when visibility is lower. In addition, as a motorist, you should have adequate auto insurance coverage to ensure you are protected in the case of a collision with a pedestrian or another driver who may not have the insurance coverage required to pay for the damages or one who chooses to not remain at the scene.

Rights as a Pedestrian

Pedestrians have the right of way on a sidewalk. If a vehicle passes over a sidewalk, then the driver must yield the right of way to the pedestrian. However, as a pedestrian, you also must be on the lookout for vehicles backing out or driving across sidewalks. Pedestrians must also follow all traffic signs and signals and pay attention to where they are walking.

To help reduce pedestrian-involved accidents, we must develop a more positive attitude regarding driving and limit distractions. Following these simple safety tips can significantly reduce the instances of pedestrian-involved accidents and can help keep the roadways safer for all pedestrians, including bike riders and walkers taking advantage of this new mode of transportation during the pandemic.

However, if you exhibited a duty of care and still were involved in an accident, you may be eligible for compensation for the injuries and damages sustained as the result of the negligence of another. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida following your accident to see what steps to take.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

Has the Pandemic Affected Pedestrians in Florida’s Suncoast?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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