Florida led nation in increase in pedestrian accidents

Florida had the unfortunate distinction of reporting the largest increase in fatal pedestrian accidents of any state in the nation last year. Nationwide, pedestrian fatalities rose for the first 6 months of 2010 for the first time in several years, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported.

West Palm Beach accident attorneys are frequently called to handle the tragic accidents that often occur when a pedestrian’s rights are violated.

Last year, 8 states reported a double-digit increase in the number of pedestrian deaths, led by Florida (up 35) and Arizona (up 21).

Formerly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), researcher Dr. James Hedlund completed the first of its kind pedestrian fatality report on a state-by-state basis.

The study Spotlight on Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State revealed that 7 more pedestrian deaths occurred during the first 6 months of 2010. In 2009, there were a total of 1,884 pedestrians that died from January through June; in 2010 that number was 1,891. With an average drop of 200 deaths per year since 2005, the slight increase is a concern.

On the other hand, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a continued decline in traffic deaths for the first half of 2010. The 2nd quarter of 2010 marked the 17th consecutive quarter of decreasing traffic deaths.

“Nationally, pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 percent of overall traffic deaths, a small but significant portion. Given that we have made so much progress in this area, GHSA is concerned to see this reversal,” said GHSA Chairman Vernon F. Betkey Jr. “One factor may be the increased distractions for both pedestrians and drivers. Anyone who travels in a busy city has seen countless pedestrians engrossed in conversation or listening to music while crossing a busy street. Just as drivers need to focus on driving safely, pedestrians need to focus on walking safely – without distractions.”

Pedestrian deaths vary a great deal from state to state. In 2009, states with large populations and urban areas like California, Florida, Texas and New York combined for 41% of pedestrian deaths nationally.

Compare that to 12% of pedestrian deaths nationally when you pooled the 25 states (including the District of Columbia) with the least pedestrian deaths.

The report indicated there is no sole cause or countermeasure that would dramatically increase pedestrian safety. Some states use a mixture of enforcement, educational and environmental procedures to improve pedestrian safety.

The responsibility of protecting pedestrians needs to be shared by both motorists and pedestrians. There is room for everyone if we all work together and pay attention.