Despite Right of Way, Florida Pedestrians Face Extreme Danger

July 24, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Despite Right of Way, Florida Pedestrians Face Extreme Danger

Pedestrians are put in danger by Right-Turning Cars

In February 2018, a driver in St. Petersburg struck an 83-year-old pedestrian, resulting in serious injury. The incident occurred as the pedestrian was crossing mid-block in the 6700 block of 4th Street North. Despite having the right-of-way under Florida law, Florida pedestrians face extreme danger. According to the 2016 Dangerous by Design report from neighborhood advocacy group Smart Growth America, Florida tops the list of states with dangerous metropolitan communities for pedestrians.

Statistics Show Danger for Florida Pedestrians

Smart Growth America is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for walkable cities. The 2016 Dangerous by Design report, the fourth the group has released, examines the most dangerous for pedestrians in America. Smart Growth uses a Pedestrian Danger Index, or PDI, to calculate the share of commuters who walk to work and the most recent data on pedestrian deaths.

With Florida leading the list of most dangerous states, the top seven most dangerous metropolitan communities in America also belong to Florida. Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater ranked seventh on the list, with 821 pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2014, or 2.88 pedestrian fatalities per year per 100,000 residents.

Florida is not alone when it comes to pedestrian deaths. The report found that between 2005-2014, Americans were 7.2 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than from a natural disaster. An average of 13 people were struck and killed by a car every day while walking during 2014 alone.

Older, Poorer Floridians Most Vulnerable

Adults 65 years and older are at much higher risk of being struck and killed by a car, with the risk even higher for those over 75. With more than half-a-million seniors living in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater areas, incidents like the February 2018 one involving an 83-year-old pedestrian represent ever-present dangers.

Other demographics across the United States show Native Americans and African Americans at high risk in large cities. Poorer neighborhoods contain some of the worst pedestrian infrastructure anywhere, according to the Dangerous By Design report. Areas with higher poverty levels also have a higher percentage of pedestrians due to lower rates of vehicle ownership.

Factors Contributing to Pedestrian Deaths

Speed remains the top contributing factor in pedestrian fatalities. A pedestrian struck at 40 miles per hour has an 80 percent chance of dying. In contrast, a pedestrian struck at 20 miles per hour has only a 10 percent chance of being killed. New York City was among the first to lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour in order to protect pedestrians.

According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 74 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen at night and 72 percent of those killed were not crossing at intersections.

Fifteen percent of pedestrians killed each year are hit by a drunk driver. Thirty-four percent of pedestrians killed are legally drunk themselves.

Distracted driving and even distracted walking, caused by electronic devices, are the number three cause of pedestrian fatalities. Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe distracted walking is a serious issue. An estimated 10 percent of pedestrian injuries due to distracted walking land people in emergency departments—although a majority of such injuries goes unreported and untreated.

Smart Growth America also cites street design as a factor in pedestrian fatalities. Poor pedestrian infrastructure, along with fast-moving cars, increases the danger for everyone.

Where pedestrians cross can determine the risk of an accident occurring. Pedestrians crossing at designated crossing areas are much less likely to be hit by a vehicle than those jaywalking across a busy multi-lane road. Also,

Drivers and Pedestrians Share Responsibility for Safety

Florida law clearly defines right-of-way rules as they apply to drivers and pedestrians:

  • The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
  • Pedestrian responsibility is clearly defined as well, and has particular resonance for pedestrians using an electronic device:
  • No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

In other words, it is up to drivers and pedestrians alike to use caution to look out for their safety. By better understanding who has the right-of-way—and with more focused attention to our surroundings—we can create safer, walkable communities.

Consult a St. Petersburg, Florida, Personal Injury Lawyer

Despite the alarming statistics, pedestrians continue to be struck and killed every day in the United States. Pedestrian fatalities happen in every city, state, and to every income level and ethnicity. When a pedestrian steps off a curb and a driver speeds around the corner at the same time, it is a recipe for disaster. Factor in additional considerations such as ridesharing and self-driving cars and the risks continue to climb for pedestrians.

Not everyone struck by a vehicle dies. Many live, but are left with chronic pain and suffering for the rest of their lives. Their injuries may lead to them losing their jobs, or seeing their family income decline as family members take time off to care for them. They may experience a reduced quality of life because their injuries keep them from the activities they love. And, of course, the emotional trauma being struck by a car stays with victims long after broken bones, cuts, and bruises heal.

Every Floridian deserves to be able to walk around their community without the fear of being struck by a speeding, drunk, or distracted driver. The St. Petersburg office of the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is staffed with highly experienced attorneys ready to assist Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater residents who have been injured in pedestrian accidents, and the families of those who have been tragically killed. We fight to recover compensation for our clients, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

If you or someone you love has experienced injury or death as the result of a careless driver, call (727) 472-3909 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 1663 1st Ave S. St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (727) 472-3909


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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