Central Florida roads are some of most dangerous in country for pedestrians

Producer sorted through 5,631,814 lines of data

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter, Donovan Myrie - Investigative/Special Projects Producer

CENTRAL FLORIDA - Central Florida roads are some of the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians.  Every year hundreds are killed and badly injured.

Drivers are more likely to take a life here than anywhere else in the United States according to studies.

News 6 poured through millions of files to crunch the numbers.

But we also go beyond the numbers to show how these crashes affect Central Florida families.

"I was devastated.  My entire family was devastated," Penny Stout told News 6.

Stout's home is filled with pictures of her brother, 55-year-old Bobby Stout, who was a Special Olympian and a hard worker, according to his sister.

He was also one of the many pedestrians killed on Central Florida roads.

"It's the worst thing you can ever feel, you lose someone like that," Stout said.

A memorial still marks where it happened on Goldenrod Road in 2011.

The year Bobby was killed, the National Complete Streets Coalition's Dangerous by Design report listed Orlando as the most dangerous city for pedestrians.

Since then, not much has changed.

"It’s gotten worse," Stout said.  "A lot worse."

In some ways it has.

From 2014 to 2015 pedestrian fatalities increased in five counties in Central Florida.
Drivers are killing pedestrians in the triple digits each year.  124 people died in 2015 alone, according to records from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. "When someone dies and you’re the cause of it.  I don't know how you could ever live with yourself," Stout said.

Crashes can be deadly for pedestrians and leave drivers with a lifetime of guilt.
 
Some roads are worse than others. In 2015, drivers killed 14 people on US-441.
Seven more people were killed on US 192. Six people died on 436 and another 6 on State Road 50.
 
"We still see way too many pedestrians dying," Sgt. Kim Montes with the Florida Highway Patrol told News 6.  "A lot of our fatal crashes come down to the technicality under Florida law," she said.  "A lot of them are the pedestrians fault."
 
The Dangerous by Design report believes Central Florida roads are the problem.
Wide roads like 441 allow cars to go fast, but aren't equipped for pedestrians.
Many roads have crosswalks so far apart pedestrians take their chances darting into the medians to cross the street.
 
The Department of Transportation knows it’s a problem and has launched an ad campaign "Alert Today Alive Tomorrow."
 
Stout says pedestrians and drivers should be careful, because both lives can change in an instant.
 
"Be careful on the roads," she said.  "Every life is precious."

Pedestrian Fatal (2015) Methodology:
 
Extracting data from this story was challenging.  WKMG reporter Louis Bolden started with requesting state crash statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol for the most recent completed year (2015). FHP sent WKMG a CD containing four folders of spreadsheets (and a MS Word file that explained definitions for the data).
 
Each folder was broken up into quarters (i.e. Q1 was Jan-Mar, Q2 Apr-Jun, and so on). Within each folder, FHP included the following ten files. The numbers next to each file represent the lines of data in each Excel spreadsheet
 
        
With 5,631,814 lines of data to sort through Investigative Team set to work. The task: figuring out the following:
 
·         How many non-drivers in Central Florida were killed by vehicles?
·         What were the most dangerous counties?
·         What were the most dangerous cities?
·         What were the most dangerous streets?
·         Who was most likely to be killed?
·         Does time of year play a role in non-motorist traffic deaths?
 
To start, the WKMG team looked first at the Non-Motorist files for each quarter. The Non-Motorist data included information for people involved in accidents that were not behind the wheel of a vehicle (i.e. pedestrians, bicyclists, or someone in a wheelchair).
 
Sorting through the data, we were interested in fatalities only (coded as the number “5” under injury severity | Column Z). The data on this spreadsheet gave a report number, a victim’s name, and a victim’s home address. To compliment this information, it was necessary to then cross-reference each report number associated with a victim, with report numbers from the Event spreadsheets. Specifically, we were looking to add the following information: Crash Date & Time (Column “C”), County (Column L), City (Column M), and Street (Column V). The team decided to forgo Latitude and Longitude information as data was incomplete for a majority of the entries.
 
Once we had the new sheets built, it was a matter of then sorting columns and analyzing data to draw conclusions about Central Florida specific incidents.

Pedestrian Fatal (2015) Highlights
 
·         In 2015, there were at least 128 non-motorists killed in Central Florida vehicle accidents.
 
·         The statistic of 128 is just 15.90% the 805 total non-motorists killed in the state in 2015 as a result of being struck by a vehicle.
 
·         Almost one-third of the Central Florida non-motorists killed by vehicles in 2015 were from Orange County. The county by county breakdown:
 
·         Central Florida men were almost three times more likely to be killed by a vehicle then were women. In 2015, 93 men were killed (72.65%) versus 35 women (27.34%).
 
·         The chances of a non-motorist being killed by someone operating a motor vehicle jumped dramatically depending on the time of the year. For Central Florida, in 2015 there were more than twice as many deaths in the fourth quarter (Oct-Dec) than quarters 2 and 3. For Quarter 4 vs Quarter 1, there was almost twice as many deaths. There were also a higher percentage of Central Florida deaths in Quarter 4 than in any other quarter.

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