By Marcus Fernandez
Tampa, with it’s fantastic weather and interesting places to visit, should be the perfect place to take a walk. However, its status as the eighth most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians says otherwise. A study conducted on behalf of Hillsborough County found that 77% of roads within the county have conditions, such as an absence of crosswalks or traffic control devices that provide inadequate time for pedestrians to cross a street, making them dangerous for pedestrians. As personal injury attorneys, we take a look at the contributing factors to dangerous roads for pedestrians in Tampa.
Risk Factors Contributing to Pedestrian Deaths and Injuries
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 8,106 accidents involving a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle resulted in 712 fatalities. So far this year, there have been 4,646 pedestrian accidents with 401 fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the following as some of the risk factors contributing to collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles:
- Alcohol use was a factor in 47% of collisions resulting in the death of a pedestrian.
- 20% of people killed in pedestrian accidents were at least 65 years of age
- 20% of children younger than 15 years of age who died in motor vehicle accidents were pedestrians.
- Vehicle speed proved to be a factor in the seriousness of injuries to pedestrians. Vehicles traveling at higher speeds caused more severe injuries than collisions at slower rates of speed.
- Not crossing at an intersection offers a greater danger to pedestrians than crossing at an intersection.
- More pedestrian fatalities occur at night than during daylight hours.
When Hillsborough County evaluated its roadways, it focused on specific characteristics affecting pedestrian safety, including the following:
- Presence of a marked crosswalk and traffic control devices allowing adequate time for pedestrians to cross the street.
- The study found that many intersections present hazards caused by turning vehicles being in conflict with pedestrians crossing the street. It cited right-on-red turns, multiple lanes permitting right turns, and left turns that may conflict with pedestrian crosswalks.
- The study considered the benefits of an all-pedestrian phase for traffic signals that stop vehicular traffic in all directions.
- Incorporation of what the study called a “median refuge island” to provide a midway point for those unable to cross.
Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa implemented their own versions of Vision Zero plans to reduce pedestrian accidents.
The Most Dangerous Roads in Tampa
Programs, including Vision Zero, at the state, county and local levels of government have focused their attention on developing methods to improve pedestrian safety through speed-management strategies, review of accident data to identify high-injury roadways, and proactive enforcement of speed limits. The City of Tampa, identified the following roads as the most dangerous roads in Tampa:
- Hillsborough Avenue.
- Busch Blvd.
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
The city police developed and implemented a policy of proactive enforcement of state traffic laws on the three most dangerous roads to encourage safer driver behaviors on them.
The report identifying Florida as the most dangerous state in terms of pedestrian fatalities noted that government programs and initiatives have done little to improve pedestrian safety over the years. One reason for this may be driver behavior standing in the way. The proactive enforcement of traffic laws by police in Tampa may be one method to force drivers to modify the way they drive, but drivers can make a difference on their own by doing the following:
- Avoid driving while distracted. Talking on the phone or texting, drinking coffee, eating or focusing on GPS devices are distractions that can divert driver attention away from the road and cause a collision with a pedestrian.
- Slow down because speeding increases the severity of injuries suffered by pedestrians, and it also decreases the time a motorist has to react to a pedestrian crossing the street or walking along the shoulder of a roadway.
- Do not drive after consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks or at intersections with a traffic control device.
- Lookout for pedestrians when making turns or when backing out of parking spaces.
Drivers need to recognize their role in the campaign to make roads safer for pedestrians.
Help for Pedestrians Injured in Accidents
If you or a loved one are injured on one of the dangerous roads for pedestrians in Tampa, a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at KFB Law can offer options for obtaining compensation from the party or parties responsible for the accident. Schedule a free case evaluation with the convenient contact form at their website.