There were 249 pedestrians killed in accidents in Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC), and West Virginia (WV) combined in 2008. The loss of life in Florida (FL) was 490 in 2008, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This isn’t meant to boast about our region’s numbers by highlighting Florida’s disturbingly high numbers. The fact that 249 people died while walking or riding their bikes on our roads is unacceptable. Nevertheless, it is striking to know that 11.1 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents and 17.4 percent of fatal bike rider accidents occurred in Florida and four of the top 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas are in the Sunshine State, according to USA Today.
Is Florida doing anything to combat the staggeringly high number of pedestrian deaths and injuries? In many areas, yes. For example, Tampa-St. Petersburg (identified as the deadliest metropolitan area for pedestrians) the Mayor took the initiative to build bike lanes, trails, sidewalks on major roads, and add new crosswalks. This produced a 56 percent reduction in pedestrian injuries and deaths in the area since 2000.
The actions taken in Tampa-St. Petersburg could be used as a blueprint statewide in Florida and may be useful in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. I think Virginia Beach would be especially well-served by adopting some of the changes Tampa-St. Petersburg made. Virginia Beach is like a microcosm of Florida, in the sense that you have a higher number of pedestrians, bike riders (some wearing helmets, others not), and even tourists on the road. This leads to a higher risk of pedestrian and bike rider accidents leading to serious injury and death. In fact, our firm represented two pedestrians who were crossing Atlantic Avenue and 23rd Street when they were hit by a car.
Both of the pedestrians suffered very serious injuries including fractured right tibias. Fortunately, we were able to obtain a settlement which helped both cover medical bills and lost wages (check out additional pedestrian injury case results here ). But accidents like this could be prevented if there were more options for pedestrians to use that do not involve directly interacting with cars and trucks.
Here’s a video of my colleague John Cooper talking about the importance of crosswalk safety for pedestrians…
I think a nationwide initiative to add more crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes should be undertaken. Virtually every state could benefit from removing the contentious relationship between cars/trucks/SUVs and pedestrians/bike riders with sharing the road.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.