An article published recently in The New York Times regarding the Orlando metropolitan area’s ignominious ranking as the most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians comes as no surprise to Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham. It comes as no surprise to the millions of others who live in the Orlando area either. Transportation for America, a non-profit safety advocacy organization, conducted a recent survey that led to the article. They found that Orlando-Kissimmee ranked first out of 52 metro areas in the country for pedestrians killed by motor vehicles, with more than 550 people killed in pedestrian accidents from 2000 to 2009. The survey found that the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranked second, followed by Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, respectively.
“So much of Florida has been built up so quickly in that era of the automobile-oriented design; it’s this sort of boomer phenomenon,” said David Goldberg, communications director for the organization. “The tendency there has been to build the big wide arterials; you have these long superblocks, and you can get up to a good speed.”
Transportation for America’s study of our pedestrian accident problem, called “Dangerous by Design,” was published last May. Researchers found that our area’s Hispanic and African-American residents, who also happen to be the least likely to own their own automobiles, suffered the highest pedestrian fatality rates. They also found that people who ride area buses were especially vulnerable to being struck and injured or killed by cars, as they must cross wide area roadways with heavy vehicular traffic moving at high rates of speed.
The article spoke with an area resident who had just dashed across the six lanes of Semoran Boulevard with bags of groceries from a nearby food bank. The posted speed limit on this road is 45 miles per hour, but traffic frequently moves at speeds of 60 or more mph.
“You’ve got to walk fast, you can’t talk and you keep your eye on the road,” she said. “There are no lights, no crosswalks and the bus stop is in the middle here. Oh my God, the traffic here,” she said. “People have no courtesy, no patience for human beings, no respect.”
A reporter spoke with another woman nearby who also bolted across Semoran Boulevard with her two daughters. “Every day I do this,” she said. “Of course, I’m afraid. We all link arms and cross as quickly as possible. Drivers see you coming here and they speed up.”
Orlando officials have taken notice of the area’s pedestrian accident problems and are working to make our area safer. Readers of this blog may recall a post a few months back about new sidewalks planned for the area and other plans to reduce the number of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by vehicles.
“We are trying to change the culture and this thinking that is car-centric,” said Frank Consoli, Orlando’s traffic operations engineer. “Any death is too many. We don’t want to see that. We don’t want Orlando also to get a reputation that we have problems here. We want to make it as safe as possible.”
Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham wholeheartedly supports anything that reduces the number of people struck and injured or killed by automobiles in our area and has seen drivers speed up to intimidate pedestrians on many occasions. Speeding up to scare people walking or riding their bikes is the epitome of negligent behavior. If you or someone in your family has been struck and injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, call 407-425-2000 or 888-425-2004 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Please practice extra care when walking along or crossing area roadways.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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