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Officials Taking Drastic Action to Address Florida’s High Pedestrian Fatality Rate

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently sponsored campaigns in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties designed to increase awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the town's busy roadways. The four-week program, called "Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow...Safety Doesn't Happen by Accident," was the first of its kind in the state.

The Campaign
The multimedia campaign consisted of interactive demonstrations by the FDOT and local officials, televised messages and public education sessions designed to remind drivers and pedestrians/bicyclists alike of the "rules of the road." The program detailed common-sense reminders like looking both ways before crossing the road and ongoing infrastructure changes like the construction of additional sidewalks, installation of concrete and elevated crosswalk signage, more streetlights in areas of high pedestrian traffic and an increased number of pedestrian crossing lights.

There were other factors for both motorists and walkers to consider, though, including:

- Jaywalking can be hazardous - nearly 50 percent of pedestrians killed along Florida roads each year are struck while outside the bounds of a marked pedestrian crosswalk

- Wearing bright or reflective clothing when walking at night (especially important in light of the NHTSA's finding that almost 70 percent of America's annual fatal pedestrian accidents occurred at night)

- Drinking and walking can sometimes be just as hazardous as drinking and driving well - about 40 percent of Florida's pedestrian fatalities involve alcohol consumption by either the pedestrian or the motorist

Why Now?
A push to educate the public about the possible hazards affecting pedestrians and bicyclists was deemed necessary by the FDOT - and similar campaigns could be coming in other areas of the state - in part by the latest pedestrian fatality numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the NHTSA, Florida is one of the deadliest states for pedestrians, with nearly 500 pedestrian deaths in 2010 (the most recent year for which such data is available).

Hopefully the efforts of the FDOT and other governmental agencies will go a long way toward reducing the number of pedestrian accidents, injuries and fatalities in the state, but the impact of such campaigns as "Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow...Safety Doesn't Happen by Accident" remains to be seen. If you or a loved one has been injured while walking, jogging or biking along a Florida roadway, seek the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.