Florida Cities Named Most Dangerous for Pedestrian Accidents

A September traffic fatality in the dark early morning hours on U.S. 441 near a rural intersection north of Ocala marked the most recent fatal pedestrian accident in the region. The 71-year-old victim was struck while in the middle road and pronounced dead on the scene, becoming the 48th fatal car accident victim in Marion County in 2012.

Pedestrian accidents have increased in some parts of the country in recent decades due to factors such as distracted driving and difficulties for walkers, joggers and bicyclists to find safe places to cross busy suburban intersections and other high traffic areas. Florida has received its share of notoriety for roadway design defects that increase hazards to people who are not protected by the glass and steel shell of a motor vehicle.

In a decade-long study of preventable pedestrian deaths in the U.S., the group Transportation for America named four Florida metro areas as the most dangerous in the country: Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale came in at the top of the list of the 52 largest metro areas in the country.

In its Dangerous by Design report, Transportation for America found that overall vehicle fatality rates have fallen across the U.S., but pedestrian fatalities have decreased at only half the rate of motorist and passenger fatalities. In 15 of the largest metro areas, death rates for pedestrians have actually increased.

The primary reason why Florida receives such bad marks in this study is the state's rapid growth over the past 50 years. Sprawling development in areas like Central Florida has focused on helping citizens travel long distances between home, work, schools and errands, and therefore put a priority on making things easier for cars, trucks and buses.

From 2000 to 2009, nearly 50,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by vehicles in the U.S., the equivalent of a full jumbo jet crash every month. Florida had the highest Pedestrian Danger Index of any state under the study, and suffered more than 5,100 pedestrian fatalities.

While Ocala is not large enough to register on the national list of metro areas, its pedestrian fatality rate was equal to Jacksonville's and higher than the rates in Orlando, Miami or Tampa. Ocala suffered 103 pedestrian deaths over the study period, as compared to 51 in Gainesville. In Marion County, pedestrians accounted for 12.3 percent of all traffic deaths, with similar figures in Alachua County and Citrus County.

In any pedestrian accident case, competing allegations of driver inattentiveness and the injury victim's actions may arise. A Florida personal injury lawyer can explain the legal implications and help a client understand the prospects for success through a negotiated settlement or car accident litigation.