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Florida county sees uptick in bicyclist, pedestrian traffic deaths

The Florida Highway Patrol is urging pedestrians and bicyclists to exercise caution when sharing the road with automobiles, citing a recent and dramatic increase in non-motorist traffic deaths in Manatee County. The county was home to four non-motorist fatalities in just over a week, but police say the uptick was likely a coincidence. A representative for FHP explained that it's a little out of the ordinary and that no one can pinpoint exactly what is behind the trend.

The first serious car accident occurred when two people were struck by cars as they were crossing the road. Police claim at least two drivers did not stop following the collisions. One 33-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene while the other was hospitalized with critical injuries.

Less than a week later, a 52-year-old woman was killed after being hit by a vehicle while she tried to cross the roadway. Again, the driver responsible for the accident fled the scene. Emergency workers took the victim to a nearby hospital, but she was pronounced dead upon arrival. Three days later, another woman was killed after she reportedly stepped in front of an oncoming car. The 38-year-old woman was killed by the collision. The most recent crash happened when a 41-year-old man was fatally struck by a car as he rode his bicycle across the road.

None of the drivers currently face criminal charges, but the FHP is still conducting investigations into all of the crashes. Police believe the three pedestrian accidents may have occurred because the victims did not properly look for approaching vehicles before crossing the road, but this does not necessarily mean that the drivers would not be held responsible in criminal or civil court. Many pedestrian and bicycle advocates say that such accidents could be prevented by the implementation of additional crosswalks.

Source: Brandenton Herald, "Non-motorist traffic fatalities spike in Manatee County," Oct. 24, 2012

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