Pedestrian Fatalities in Florida on the Decline, but Still Common
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Pedestrian Fatalities in Florida on the Decline, but Still Common

A pedestrian accident is different from an auto accident in many ways. For one, when you get into your automobile to drive, the first thing you do (hopefully!) is buckle your seatbelt. But when you go outside to walk home from school, dinner or an event, no one thinks “I better watch out that I don’t get hit by a car.” It’s a given, sort of, that you will make it to your destination safely, but being hit by a car can be a life altering experience, and tragedies such as fatalities or permanent injury can happen as a result of an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pedestrian fatalities have declined by 1.7 percent to 4,735, but that number is still 15 percent higher than the low in 2009 of 4,109 pedestrian fatalities. From 2011 to 2013 there were 25,900 pedestrian accidents in Florida, 75 percent of them resulting in injury or death. According to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, “Florida has become one of the most dangerous states in the United States for pedestrians.”

A 19-year-old University of South Florida student is in critical condition after being struck by a car. While in the crosswalk attempting to cross 50th Street at Sun Ridge Palm Drive, Elizabeth Courtney was crossing was struck by a Nissan Altima driven by Ernest Washington, 30, of Tampa Fl. Washington was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk.

An elder couple, Francine Freedman, 80, and Philip Kendall, 85, were killed recently after being struck by a car on State Road A1A in Deerfield Beach. The couple was crossing at a point where a streetlight was not working but it is unclear according to investigators if that contributed to the accident. A neighbor who came out of his house when he heard the accident stated that the crossing was noted to be dangerous at night because of the lack of lighting due the the streetlight being out of order.

The family of the Freedman’s or the Kendalls may have a wrongful death claim against the city of Deerfield Beach, or FPL (the operator and owner of the streetlamp) for their negligence in not addressing a deficient street lamp that may not have had the area lit well, contributing to the fatal pedestrian accident.

In Largo, Florida, Sarah Arlia, a 32-year old mother, was crossing the street “outside of the crosswalk” with her 5-year-old son and 6-week-old daughter when the family was struck by a car causing the death of the infant girl. The driver stated that he saw the family but not soon enough to stop. The three were directly struck at the car’s full speed as there was no time at all to break. The car was driven by 65-year old Sandra Neki.

One can never assume that just because lines are painted on a highway, a driver will necessarily obey them and stop or slow down. It’s always better to err on the side of patience and caution. It’s it up to us all when we are pedestrians to exercise the same level of caution and awareness while walking that we would exercise when we are driving.