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Pedestrians Need Eyes Wide Open for Safety


As our legislators and law enforcement officers look for new and creative ways to make our roads and interstates safer by demanding better built cars and keeping drunk drivers off of the street, an often overlooked area of concern is pedestrian safety. In fact, in the United States over 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the ten-year period from 2000 to 2009. Perhaps most alarming for residents of the Sunshine State is that the top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are in Florida.

Data collected and published by Transportation for America found that Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Jacksonville, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, ranked first through fourth respectively in what’s called “Pedestrian Danger Index.” The Pedestrian Danger index takes into account the average annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000, and the percent of people who walk to work. Lest we think there is a connection between the significant senior population of Florida and the high incidence of pedestrian deaths, it should be noted that the 22% of pedestrian deaths that involve those 65 years or older is the same as the 22% national average.

Accounting for the number of people who live and walk in these metro areas is why New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island with 3,485 deaths per year is all the way down at 50th in the Pedestrian Danger Index. New York City’s concerted effort to better manage traffic and provide safer paths for pedestrians explains why New York is rated as safely as it is. While it should be the job of local legislators to use available funds to help protect the pedestrians of their cities, drivers and pedestrians alike must be vigilant in avoiding these preventable incidents.

Pedestrians should always look where they are going, looking left, right, and left again when crossing the street and continuing to look as they cross. Too often nowadays people walk down the street staring at their phones or texting, and this puts us in unnecessary danger. Pedestrians should always attempt to walk on sidewalks or paths, and should walk against traffic, as far to the left as possible, when walking where there is no path. Perhaps most important is that pedestrians should never assume that a driver can and does see them. Instead the pedestrian should make every effort to make eye contact with the driver when crossing directly in front of a car.


Drivers must also do their part to share the road with those around them, including pedestrians and cyclists. It’s important to remember that pedestrians have the right of way, and drivers should recognize when they are entering or around areas that are heavily-foot-trafficked. This means putting down our cell phones and waiting until we are parked to send a text message, even though Florida is one of only a handful of states whose legislators have failed to enact such a statute. No text can possibly be worth possible consequences of driving while distracted.

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