ORLANDO, Fla. – The City Beautiful is also the most dangerous place in the United States for pedestrians.
Florida is the No. 1 state for pedestrian fatalities, according to the Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.
The Orlando metropolitan area is the most dangerous in the United States. Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville is No. 4; Deltona/Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach is No. 5; and Lakeland/Winter Haven is No. 9. North Port/Sarasota/Bradenton checked in at No. 6; and Jacksonville is the 10th most dangerous metro area, News 6 partner WJXT-TV reported.
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes said there are multiple factors that can lead to crashes involving pedestrians.
“We really just need both groups to do what they need to do and share the road. We need pedestrians to cross where it’s safe, your life depends on it. A lot of these pedestrian crashes that occur overnight, the driver never had a chance to react because by the time they saw the pedestrian, they were not able to stop and avoid it. We have a lot of times the driver is just not paying attention. If you see a pedestrian anywhere near a roadway, by law you have a duty to reduce your speed, focus on that pedestrian so you could potentially avoid a crash with one,” she said.
Colonial Drive, Orange Blossom Trail, John Young Parkway and State Road 436 are the four highest areas for pedestrian crashes and fatalities in the Orlando area, according to Montes.
“If you see a pedestrian and (they’re) in your area, the first thing you should be doing is taking your foot off the gas and making sure that if that pedestrian does come out in front of you, whether suddenly or gradually, that you can avoid that crash,” Montes said. “It really does come down to personal responsibility whether you’re driving a vehicle, whether you’re walking.”
She wasn’t surprised to see Orlando on the list yet again.
“We need to do a better job because, unfortunately, every year we keep making this list,” she said.
According to the Insurance Insurance for Highway Safety, 713 pedestrians died on Florida’s roads in 2019 -- its most recent data.
While the number of fatalities leveled off last year, the groups’ Pedestrian Danger Index went up in 84 of the top 100 metropolitan areas and 49 states.
The study is released every year to continue pressure on communities, writing in the introduction:
“While improving safety requires a long-term commitment to retrofitting infrastructure and changing the practices that lead to these dangerous roads, any state can make immediate progress today. There is no excuse not to take action now.”
The groups applauded Florida for recognizing the problem and adopting a “complete streets” policy in 2014, outlining ambitious steps to upgrade design and planning for roadways, but then continued:
The researchers clearly hold policymakers responsible for not reducing the number of deaths.
“Despite what they claim about safety, they continue to prioritize moving cars at high speeds. People walking -- especially those most vulnerable to being struck and killed -- continue to pay the price.”