We're already past the midpoint of the year, so the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. Unfortunately, that means that more people will soon be doing their nightly walks, early-morning jogs and other pedestrian activities in the dark.
Being a pedestrian in Florida can mean risking life and limb sometimes. Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation, and 9 out of the country's "deadliest cities" for pedestrians are in the state. Pedestrians are regularly admonished by local authorities to use the crosswalks and obey the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs at intersections.
Being a pedestrian can be hazardous to your health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that drivers struck and killed nearly 6,000 pedestrians in the United States in 2017. That equates to approximately one fatality every 88 minutes. Emergency room doctors treat almost 140,000 pedestrians for non-life threatening injuries every year. CDC data also reveals that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than motorists traveling in vehicles.
New research published by the University of Michigan is taking a hard look into some of the lesser-known consequences of traumatic spinal injuries: the psychological damage caused by living with the condition.
In recent years, Americans have enthusiastically embraced earth-friendly and inexpensive modes of transportation, especially walking. The only problem is that most modern American cities, including those in Florida, were designed around vehicular traffic -- not pedestrians.
Motor vehicles can pose a serious danger to pedestrians on Florida roads. Because people walking have few protections against heavy cars, they may face a risk of catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities requiring extensive medical care and time away from work. While all pedestrians face a risk when sharing the road with larger vehicles, some cars may be more likely to crash into them, and some walkers may face higher levels of carelessness from drivers. According to one study, drivers with expensive vehicles are less likely to come to a stop for people in a crosswalk than those with cheaper cars.
Like most other states, texting and driving is prohibited in Florida, and Florida also has legal restrictions on motorists using a hand-held phone while behind the wheel. However, the problem with drivers in the Tampa area and throughout the country being distracted by their phones seems to be continuing. Over 3,000 people die from distracted driving each year according to official numbers from the federal government, and many experts believe that the actual number is higher.
While Florida and other jurisdictions have continuing to take measures against texting and driving, it seems that, at least according to recent statistics, distractions behind the wheel continue to be a deadly problem on the roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, as of two years ago, just under 10 percent of all fatal accidents involved a distracted driver. In raw numbers, this means that over 3,150 people in 2017 died due to distracted driving.
Distracted driving continues to be a problem in Florida and across the United States. There are so many distractions that can affect a person's driving. Besides the distractions caused by typical activities, like eating, playing music, putting on makeup, etc., cell phones have become the major driving distraction in recent years. Our state, like many other states, is passing laws trying to combat the use of cell phones while driving to help prevent accidents.
Last week's post on this Florida-based personal injury legal blog discussed the rights that individuals have when they legally cross roads in crosswalks. Crosswalks are designated areas, often marked with paint, where pedestrians may cross from one side of a road to the other without fear of vehicle incursion. Generally, when a pedestrian is legally in a crosswalk all traffic must yield to them to allow them safe passage to the other side of the street.