Nationwide surveys that rank overall safety on and around roads never turn out well for Florida. Our roads were built for speed and our drivers know it. Unsurprisingly, a recent study confirms what many of us had already assumed: Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians. But how bad is it really? And, more importantly, what can we do about it?
Yes, Florida Really Is That Dangerous
“Sure, Florida is dangerous,” you may be saying, “but is it really that much more dangerous than other places?” Fair question. Smart Growth America’s 2019 nationwide survey took into account the number of pedestrian fatalities per capita and used it to assign an overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) to states and individual metro areas. Here are some of the more significant findings that relate to the Sunshine State:
- Of the top 10 most dangerous metro areas in the country, almost all of them (8 of 10) are in Florida.
- Florida is the most dangerous state for pedestrians; not by a little but by a lot.
- Florida’s PDI rating is a full 25 percent higher than the second most dangerous state. In fact, it’s almost 80 percent higher than the tenth most dangerous state.
What all of this means is that Florida pedestrians are truly in danger in a way that’s unique to Florida. When you’re crossing the street or even strolling on the sidewalk, you stand a much greater risk of being hit by a car than people in other states.
Why Is This Happening?
While pedestrian deaths have steadily risen in Florida over the past decade, other road fatalities have actually fallen. While experts are divided on the exact reasons, some cite the increased popularity of SUVs and other larger vehicles, which result in more fatal accidents because of their higher road clearance and greater mass. In addition, road speeds have steadily crept up as well, and your chances of surviving a pedestrian encounter with a car sharply decrease above 30 miles-per-hour.
What Can We Do?
From an infrastructure perspective, many researchers agree that a comprehensive effort must take place to re-engineer Florida’s roads to bring down the speed of traffic. Various municipalities have already responded to this latest report and are actively soliciting ideas on how to improve road safety.
However, that effort will take years to bear fruit. Until then, pedestrians need to be cautious when crossing the roads (or even being anywhere near them, quite honestly). This includes wearing highly-visible clothing as often as possible, paying attention to traffic while you’re walking, staying in designated walking areas, and not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, all of this may not be enough, but at least it’s a start.