Pedestrian Deaths Spike During Pandemic
According to a recent New York Times article, pedestrian deaths have dramatically increased over the course of the pandemic: “Two years into the pandemic, such fatalities are soaring into record territory amid a nationwide flare-up in reckless driving. In various initiatives to reverse the trends, authorities in one state after another are citing factors from the rise in anxiety levels and pandemic drinking to the fraying of social norms.
Going into the pandemic, some traffic specialists were optimistic that pedestrian deaths would decline. After all, millions of motorists were slashing their driving time and hewing to social distancing measures.
The opposite happened.
Empty roads allowed some to drive much faster than before. Some police chiefs eased enforcement, wary of face-to-face contact. For reasons that psychologists and transit safety experts are just beginning to explain, drivers also seemed to get angrier.”
To review, drivers are required to yield to pedestrians at marked crosswalks and must adhere to traffic code. However, it is also important that pedestrians be informed, especially with the current dangerous climate of angry and frustrated drivers as described by the article. Here’s what you need to know about pedestrian laws:
- Any person afoot is a pedestrian, including those in a wheelchair or on roller skates.
- Aside from maintenance or governmental personnel, a person may not walk upon a highway or a highway ramp connecting to any other street or freeway.
- If there is a sidewalk on the street, you have to use it.
- If there’s no sidewalk, you can walk on the road, but you always have to be facing traffic, not walking in the direction of it. If both driver and pedestrian can see each other, an accident is much less likely to occur.
- Cyclists are not pedestrians, so when on a bike, you should be going in the direction of traffic, preferably in a bike lane if there is one.
- Pedestrians have the right of way on a marked crosswalk, however, a pedestrian crossing a road at any oher point must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles. (And remember to always look both ways!)
- Pedestrians must obey all traffic signals and cross a road only when the pedestrian light is on.
- Even when a pedestrian has the right-of-way, pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers before crossing a road to ensure they see him/her and be certain they will stop and aren’t distracted by something.
- It is illegal to stand on the road to hail a cab, wave down a friend, save a parking spot, or guard your car. Stay to the side of the road!
- A violation of the above mentioned laws is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation, and the amount of the penalty is $15, but like any ticket, you can go to court to fight it as well.
- It’s important for pedestrians and drivers to be aware that Florida is one of 13 states to have a comparative negligence law, meaning more than one person can be at fault for any accident that may occur. So, it’s important for all parties to follow the law, because no one person can necessarily get off scot free in the state of Florida.