If you were a chicken and had to cross a street — with our without a good reason — where would you be most likely to get hit?
Answer, and no joke here: any big city in Florida.
According to a report released this week by the National Complete Streets Coalition, four of the nation’s top 20 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians are in Florida.
Orlando leads the list of dangerous cities in America for pedestrians, with a “pedestrian danger index” of 244.28. The next on the list, Tampa-St.Pete, has an index score of 190.13. That said, looking at per capita pedestrian deaths from 2008-2012, Tampa-St.Pete (2.97 annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people) has Orlando (2.75 annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people) beat by a few points. The nation’s third most dangerous city of pedestrians is Jacksonville (2.48 per 100,000), followed closely by Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (2.58 per 100,000). The next city on the list, Memphis, sees a substantial drop to 1.72 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people.
Florida, as a state, also ranks 1st in the nation for pedestrian danger, with 2.83 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people between years 2003 and 2012, compared to the national average of 1.56. About 18 percent of all traffic deaths in Florida were pedestrians during this time.
There is certainly something to be said for the fact that Floridians may spend more months walking outside than people in northern states. Yet the primary risk factors for pedestrian hazards relate more to the types of roads and communities than to the state’s weather.
This is not the first report in which Florida has been slammed for pedestrian safety. In 2011, this same report ranked four Florida metro areas as the most dangerous in the nation, leading Florida Department of Transportation secretary Ananth Prasad to create a Bicycle/Pedestrian Focused Initiative. The state has since added full-time pedestrian and bicycle safety specialists to each of its district and central offices, tasked with planning, design, policy and education.
Improvements have been seen — and certainly recommendations have been made. But don’t stop looking both ways before you cross.
Apparently, you don’t have to be “chicken” to be weary of Florida roads.