By Lynette Monem of Rubenstein Law
Pedestrian safety is a big concern here in the state of Florida. We rank 3rd in the nation for highest pedestrian fatalities. In fact, 4 out of the top 5 cities with the highest number of pedestrian injuries are in Florida, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano coming in fourth place.
In today’s world, we are constantly juggling multiple activities. Cell phones are a huge distraction for both drivers and pedestrians alike. It is important to remember that when we are behind the wheel our full attention to the road is necessary. As pedestrians, it is just as important to be aware of our surroundings.
Roads are widened and intervals between crosswalks are lengthened in order to ease traffic congestion but that actually ends up allowing more opportunities for pedestrians to get injured. People in low income areas are also at higher risk since the population of pedestrians is higher. South Florida is a haven for immigrants, many of whom do not drive. For children, pedestrian injuries are the leading cause of injury. Between 2009 and 2012, almost 60% of child pedestrians were male and 43% were African American. This issue affects all aspects of our community and I think in order to cohesively live in a community with people from different cultures and ways of living we must make a conscious effort when we are on the road to be mindful of our surroundings.
When walking across the street it is extremely important to cross at the designated crosswalks and follow crosswalk signs. Even once prompted to cross the street you should remember to look both ways and make sure that the cars on the road are paying attention as well. Make eye contact with drivers so you are assured that they see you. I think people tend to rely on these crosswalk lights and think that the cars will always follow the prompts as well. The same goes for drivers. They should not rely only on traffic lights. Drivers should be aware of pedestrians in the walkway and yield to them regardless of who has the right of way.
When walking at night be sure to wear bright colored clothing, walk with a flashlight, or where reflective clothing. Be sure to walk on the sidewalk. Remember although you can see the cars they often can’t see you.
It is also important to teach children road safety rules such as looking both ways before crossing the street, not walking while texting or using social media, crossing at crosswalks and not crossing in between cars.
We, as a community, need to work together to respect each other while we are traveling on our roadways, whether it’s by foot, bike, scooter or car. I know it can be frustrating when you are trying to cross an intersection in your car when a pedestrian comes walking through in front of you causing you to miss your opportunity to catch the green light. But just remember that it is far better to lose 5 minutes of your time than to potentially cost someone to lose their life.
If you or someone you love has been hurt or injured in an accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. We have offices in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach