1984 Pedestrian Safety Law Saved Thousands of Lives in Florida

The Sunshine State is well known for its many tourist attractions and pleasant temperatures during the winter months. This means that many people flock to Florida in the summer as tourists or in the winter as a way to escape the cold. Whether one is a resident of the state, a tourist, or a “snowbird,” it is not unusual for people in Florida to take to the streets on foot, despite the fact that Florida has the dubious honor of being one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians.

The Florida legislature addressed this issue in 1984 by enacting a law that mandated that most road construction projects must include routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. Over three decades later, a study was conducted by a researcher at the University of Georgia to determine whether this law made the state safer for pedestrians.

According to the study, over the past 34 years, the law saved approximately 3,500 to 4,000 lives. The study revealed that pedestrian fatalities went down at a faster rate after the complete streets law was enacted than they would have if Florida had followed the pedestrian fatality trends in similar states or in the U.S. entirely.

However, more can be done to make roads in Florida safer for pedestrians. The study interviewed 10 Florida Department of Transportation officials. They reported that although pedestrian and bike lanes were made a part of road construction projects, the focus of these projects was still primarily on making it possible for motorists to get from point A to point B in an efficient manner. They believe that more progress in pedestrian safety is needed.

As this shows, while Florida has made strides to make streets safer for pedestrians, accidents still occur all too frequently. When a pedestrian is struck by an automobile, the results can be deadly due to the size disparity between a car and a pedestrian. Crosswalks and sidewalks are meant to keep pedestrians safe, but even those who are obeying the law and walking where they are supposed to can be run over by a negligent driver. When this happens and the pedestrian dies, their loved ones may want to determine if they have a cause of action against the motorist who caused the accident.

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