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State Sponsors Racecar to Raise Awareness About Pedestrian Safety

James O. Cunningham and other Orlando pedestrian accident lawyers applaud any efforts to make our area safer for pedestrians, including outside-the-box thinking like the state’s latest campaign. The Department of Transportation’s latest method may be unorthodox, but, as long as it works, that’s all that matters. The DoT recently sponsored a Toyota Camry racecar driven by Joe Nemechek, who drove 120 laps in a race at Daytona International Speedway with his number 87 car sporting the agency’s pedestrian-safety motto, "Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow."

The race occurred on Feb. 23 with Nemechek finishing 18th, but DoT officials considered it a big success in helping to improve top-of-mind awareness about pedestrian safety in our state. Officials spent $174,500 to sponsor the racecar, which came out of the $1.8 million public-private partnership for pedestrian safety developed by the state. Officials are pursuing other avenues to raise awareness as well, including advertising on television, radio and billboards plus local events in the ten markets where the most pedestrian accidents occur this year. Among the designated areas are cities and towns in Orange, Volusia and Broward counties in addition to the Miami-Dade and Jacksonville markets.

Nemechek’s Toyota raced before a crowd of around 250,000 spectators at Daytona, plus another nearly three million people watching on television, said Trenda McPherson, an FDOT manager who oversees bicycle and pedestrian-safety programs. McPherson also said that an in-car camera in the race car also provided live footage of the race and netted another $500,000 worth of commercial air time because the "Alert Today" logo was clearly visible to viewers.

"We got a lot of good play on that," said McPherson, whose agency contracted with Nemechek’s team, NEMCO-JRR Motorsports of Monroe, NC, for the sponsorship.

Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Sgt. Kim Montes said that her agency "would like to think" the campaign was responsible for fewer pedestrian accident deaths so far in 2013, but she conceded that it was too early to know for sure. However, she also said that recent efforts to get drivers, walkers and cyclists to pay more attention to each other seem to having a positive effect on top-of-mind awareness of the pedestrian safety issue.

"I think there is such a big push for people to understand that there is a problem through education and the media that it’s sinking in," Montes said.

McPherson said that the economic loss when a pedestrian is struck and killed by a car is around $6.8 million, depending on factors such as age and occupation. She told reporters that the first two weeks of hospitalization after a serious accident cost an average $85,000.

"Saving a life," she said, "makes everything we do worth it."

It is wonderful that state agencies, law enforcement agencies and other safety officials are working together to make our state safer, but much work remains to overcome our reputation as being the most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians. If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by a negligent driver and you would like to speak with an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney, call Mr. Cunningham today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587).

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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