As we bid farewell to fall and wind our clocks back with the end of Daylight Savings Time, it’s important that we take a moment to discuss pedestrian safety. The coexistence between drivers and pedestrians on our streets and sidewalks is an important topic in Southwest Florida. Our region is renowned for its year-round pleasant climate, attracting visitors from around the globe wishing to enjoy our wonderful weather. However, a concerning reality shadows this idyllic setting - Florida's roads pose a significant risk to pedestrians.
The Importance of Pedestrian Safety
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Florida is second in the U.S. for fatal pedestrian accidents, with a staggering 899 fatalities recorded last year. Furthermore, the fatality rate involving pedestrians escalated by 31% between 2020 and 2021. Nationwide, the statistics are equally alarming. Last year saw the tragic demise of 7,500 pedestrians, translating to an average of 20 pedestrian deaths each day. Several factors contribute to these accidents, from inadequately illuminated roads and crosswalks to driver negligence and lack of situational awareness.
Understanding "Right of Way"
Florida law categorizes any person "afoot" as a pedestrian, encompassing individuals in wheelchairs, on rollerblades, or skateboards. However, being "afoot" doesn't automatically grant the right of way. So, when do pedestrians or drivers have the right of way?
In Parking Lots: Pedestrians traversing parking lots always have the right of way. Nevertheless, they also bear the responsibility to stay vigilant for approaching vehicles.
At Crosswalks: Whether a crosswalk has a signal or not, pedestrians always have the right of way. Drivers must always yield to any pedestrian at a crosswalk.
At Roundabouts: At roundabouts, drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians should only use marked crosswalks. Roundabouts feature "splitter islands" as pedestrian refuges, enabling pedestrians to deal with one direction of traffic at a time.
"Rolling stops," where a driver fails to stop completely at intersections or crosswalks, are another common culprit. Given Southwest Florida's popularity with tourists and seasonal residents, the area sees substantial foot traffic, often crossing bustling streets. The confusion surrounding right-of-way laws in Florida further complicates matters, with both pedestrians and drivers frequently misunderstanding them.
At Green Traffic Signals: When the traffic signal turns green, pedestrians should refrain from crossing. Crossing against the signal isn't just extremely dangerous; it's illegal, too, and could result in a traffic ticket. Always wait for the signal indicating it's safe to walk.
Understanding and respecting each other's rights and responsibilities can significantly enhance pedestrian safety. Let's strive for safer streets in Southwest Florida and beyond! If you or someone you love has been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact the pedestrian accident attorney at Pittman Law Firm, P.L. online right now or by calling (239) 603-6913.