Pedestrian Versus Auto Deaths. They are Rising in Florida
The rate of pedestrian deaths by automobiles is rising in Tampa Bay and across the country. The New York Times studied the issue and found that if the U.S. had made the same progress as other wealthy countries 25,000 pedestrian deaths would be saved in the last two decades. The Rise in U.S. Traffic Deaths – The New York Times (nytimes.com). They note that by 2010 the number of deaths from automobile-versus- automobile crashes was down substantially. However, the opposite is true for pedestrian deaths from being hit by automobiles.
It is difficult to argue with the reasons cited for the increase in automobile-versus-pedestrian deaths.
While drunken driving may have stabilized a bit, the use of cellphones has become epidemic. The iPhone was introduced in 2007 and within just a short period of time 1/3 of American adults owned a cell phone. Pass any middle school or high school now and it will be the exception for kids who do not have a cell phone. These are the drivers and soon-to-be drivers who are more keyed into their cell phones than ever before. This is in addition to a generation of drivers who have grown up with cell phones in their hands—including many while they are driving.
Florida Statute 316.305 provides that the penalty for texting while driving is a $30 fine plus potential court costs and fees. But is that enough to make most people not text while driving? The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle agency notes that there are 3 types of driver distraction: 1. Eyes off the road, 2. Hands off the wheel, and 3. Distracted focus from driving. The FLHSMV agency notes that texting while driving involves all 3 elements of distracted driving. Put It Down: Focus On Driving – Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (flhsmv.gov)
Though the penalty for texting while driving is only $30, drivers can be hit with punitive damages if a jury finds the driver caused injury or death while texting. Punitive damages are one of the few damages that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
One other difference between U.S. vehicles and those used in Europe is that a very high percentage of U.S. vehicles are automatic transmission where in Europe almost 75% of vehicle have gears that the driver must shift manually.
A second explanation for more pedestrian deaths by auto drivers is the spread of opioids, legal marijuana and readily available street drugs. For instance in the year 2016 drug-impaired drivers killed 440 people in Florida and caused 934 crashes. Drive Baked, Get Busted (flhsmv.gov)
Lack of crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes
Crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes together can be expensive for local governments to build, and it is not a 100% guarantee that a distracted driver will not hit a pedestrian or cyclist using a crosswalk, sidewalk or bike lane. Our law firm www.FightingForFamilies.com (Frank D. Butler, PA) has handled many cases where pedestrians and bicyclists were where they were supposed to be—in the crosswalk, on the bike path, or sidewalk—and they were still hit by a negligent driver.
Florida could increase the level of fines for texting while driving but has chosen not to make that a penalty which would have actual bite to being written up for texting while driving.
The numbers for pedestrian deaths in 2022 was the deadliest year for pedestrians across the United States in the last 40 years. More than 7500 pedestrians died on U.S. streets in 2022 according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Florida was in the top 3 for that unfortunate number of pedestrian deaths. Florida one of the deadliest states for pedestrians in 2022 (baynews9.com)
We fight for pedestrians and bicyclists hit by distracted drivers. We fight for families. Contact us at www.FightingForFamilies.com. We will fight for your rights