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Don’t Blame Florida Pedestrians for High Injury Risk

Florida pedestrians are some of the most endangered in the country.

As The New York Times put it in an article last year:
“Any pedestrian in Florida knows, walking in this car-obsessed state can be as tranquil as golfing in a lightning storm.”

And yet, less-than-accurate information is being peddled to the media about who is most frequently at-fault in pedestrian deaths and injuries in Vero Beach and beyond.

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Our Vero Beach car accident attorneys know that Florida communities earned the top 4 slots in the ranking of most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians last year. Orlando-Kissimmee ranked first, followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, and then Jacksonville in third, followed by Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach. Those are national rankings – meaning our pedestrians are at even higher risk than those in New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago.

In a comprehensive study conducted by Transportation for America, it was found the state often lacks adequate sidewalks, and further that drivers tend to be more careless and aggressive.

And yet, conclusions from a new study originating from the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital have been published by various media outlets. The study essentially blames pedestrians’ use of headphones as a catalyst for the crashes that lead to their injury and death.

The Times Union, in New York, for example, published the findings that in a five-year span, the number of headphone-wearing pedestrians who were killed tripled. Sure, that sounds like a startling figure at first.

The researchers were essentially saying that pedestrians who decided to enjoy music along their route were putting themselves at greater risk. No mention was made of those careless drivers who struck them, many of whom were likely also blaring their stereos or were otherwise distracted.

But let’s look a little closer at the numbers being used here. Researchers pointed to 16 deaths that fit this scenario in 2004-2005. Then they looked at numbers from 2010-2011, and found 47 deaths that fit that same pattern.

Yes, that means the numbers tripled, but in fact, it’s a very miniscule number of the total pedestrian deaths and injuries every year. Consider that between 2000 and 2009, more than 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S.

As pointed out in a recent blog by Transportation for America’s Stephen Lee Davis, that means the number of deaths the University of Maryland researchers are talking about accounts for 0.03 percent of all pedestrian deaths.

“Spending our time focused intently on this tiny aspect of pedestrian deaths is like coming across a person who’s been stabbed in the chest, and worrying about finding the Band-Aid you need to patch the scrape on his elbow,” Davis wrote.

Our Vero Beach car accident attorneys agree: Blaming the victim gets us nowhere.

Freeman & Mallard is a South Florida personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping pedestrians who have been injured in Vero Beach, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

Additional Resources:

Dangerous By Design, 2011 – Transportation for America

Pedestrian deaths, blaming the victim: headphones edition, By Stephanie Lee Davis, Transportation for America

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Two Injured in Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accident in Fort Lauderdale

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