The Florida Highway Patrol is urging increased vigilance on behalf of drivers and pedestrians having investigated 331 traffic crashes involving pedestrians in a seven-county area. Of that number, 43 were fatal.
Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities this year in the seven-county area. There were 12 in Hillsborough, 11 in Pinellas and 12 in Pasco County.
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According to the highway patrol, 87 percent of the pedestrian-involved accidents occurred at night or in low-light conditions.
- Pedestrian Tip — When walking on roads at night, pedestrians should wear bright colors and carry a flashlight or wear reflectors, advises the Florida Highway Patrol.
Another two-thirds of the fatalities occurred because the pedestrians did not obey Florida traffic laws by using pedestrian crosswalks, sidewalks and other roadway features designed for pedestrians.
- Pedestrian Tip — When sidewalks are not available, pedestrians should walk facing oncoming traffic. Especially in low-light conditions, understand that drivers might not see or expect pedestrian traffic, the Florida Highway Patrol Advises.
- Pedestrian Tip — Florida law requires that, "No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield."
The text of Florida's pedestrian traffic law can be viewed at Sunshine Online, the Web site for the Florida Legislature. It offers rules as well for motorists, including those noted below.
- Motorist Tip — "The driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger."
- Motorist Tip — "When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway . . . "
For information from the Hillsborough County Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, see the Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch report, Highway Patrol Reports Sobering News for Pedestrians.