Florida has a bad reputation when it comes to pedestrian accidents, and the latest report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) doesn’t offer any redemption.
The report reveals that not only did the national rate of fatal pedestrian accidents climb by 2 percent, from 4,779 to 4,884, the rate in Florida rose by an astonishing 17 percent, from 501 in 2013 to 588 in 2014.
What’s more, pedestrian accidents now comprise 23.6 percent of all traffic fatalities in Florida – nearly 1 in 4 – compared to 20.8 percent – or 1 in 5 – that were counted in 2013.
Technically, California had a higher number of pedestrian deaths than Florida in 2014 – 697 to our 501. However, it should be noted first of all that California has double the population of Florida – 38 million to 19 million. That’s why when population was factored in, the pedestrian rate per 100,000 people in California was 1.80, compared to a rate of 2.96 in Florida. The only place with a higher rate was New Mexico, which counted 3.55 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people, with a total of 74 pedestrian deaths that year.
Total in the U.S., pedestrian accidents comprise about 15 percent of all traffic deaths, and kill about 1.53 persons for every 100,000 people. That figure too has steadily climbed since 2004, when pedestrian accidents comprised 11 percent of all traffic fatalities.
If recent local news is any indication, these trends haven’t slowed in 2015 or 2016. Just last month, a 39-year-old woman from Cape Coral was charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident in Miramar, where she allegedly struck a pregnant mother and her two small children, ages 5 and 3. The 23-week-old fetus died days after the crash. The mother and her children survived, but were seriously injured.
The driver, with prior DUI convictions in 2001 and 2014, reportedly began shouting obscenities at the scene referencing the victims’ (erroneously assumed) nationality, saying they had struck her car and “just want a free ride.” She later told officers she had consumed two or three drinks. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.22, nearly triple the legal limit of 0.08.
The NHTSA report details how cities with populations over 500,000 have the highest percentage of pedestrian accident fatalities. For example in New York City, the pedestrian accidents were 61 percent of the total number of traffic accidents. In Los Angeles, they comprised 33.5 percent.
Among big cities in Florida, only Jacksonville’s numbers were detailed by the federal regulator, which revealed a total of 33 pedestrian deaths there in 2014, accounting for 26.2 percent of all total traffic fatalities that year.
The breakdown offered by the agency indicated there was a fatal pedestrian accident every 2 hours, with someone injured every 8 minutes.
A substantial factor in these crashes: Alcohol. Officials opined that in 48 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents, either the driver or pedestrian was impaired by alcohol. What’s more, a total of 18 percent of pedestrian deaths that year were the result of a hit-and-run, where the driver did not stop as required by law.
In those situations, drivers and/or surviving family members may pursue damages via the victim’s uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage through his or her auto insurance policy. These benefits are available even if the victim was not actually operating a vehicle at the time of the accident, but as struck by a vehicle.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Pedestrians, May 2016, NHTSA
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