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Florida pedestrians urged to be vigilant after deadly weekend

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiled a list identifying 22 of the largest cities in the United States where the rates of fatal pedestrian accidents exceed the national average.

While you might naturally assume before even looking that at least one Florida city or possibly even two would make the list due to such factors as population and weather, this would have been far from accurate.

As it turns out, the NHTSA indicated that an unbelievable four Florida-based cities -- Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando -- all had rates of fatal pedestrian accidents that exceeded the national average.

As if these numbers weren't grim enough, the NHTSA also indicated that three of the Sunshine State's most populous counties -- Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade -- accounted for a combined 83 pedestrian fatalities in 2012.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as if things are improving so far in 2014, as South Florida was the scene of three separate pedestrian accidents this past weekend that left three people dead and three others with serious personal injuries.

According to reports, none of the three accidents have resulted in criminal charges, something that law enforcement say can be attributed, at least in part, to their decision to remain at the scene of the fatal accidents.

"It's important for anyone that is involved a traffic crash to remain on the scene so they can provide us with the most accurate information on what happened, to render aid if necessary, and to avoid any criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident with injuries," said an official the North Miami Beach police department.

In light of these tragic accidents and the figures outlined above, what can pedestrians here in Florida do to protect themselves from harm?

According to experts, pedestrians can help keep themselves safe by following just a few basic safety tips:

  • Always cross the street at the crosswalk, as it is the one location where drivers are perhaps most likely to anticipate encountering pedestrians.
  • Always use the sidewalk; In the event this isn't possible, walk facing traffic and remain as far out of the way as possible.
  • Always wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight if planning to walk at night; During daylight, don't assume that drivers can see you and make eye contact as they approach.
  • Always avoid walking on restricted access highways and freeways.

It's important to understand that motorists have a duty to drive safely and that this includes reducing their speeds in areas where pedestrians might be present. If the actions of a negligent motorist have resulted in a pedestrian accident leaving you with serious personal injuries, remember that you may be able to hold them accountable in a court of law.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, "Deadly weekend for walkers in South Florida," Linda Trischitta, March 24, 2014

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