Playing Frogger: A Recent Rise in Pedestrian & Cyclist Deaths
By Joshua E. Rodgers (“Intern Josh”) and John M. Phillips
Florida is the deadliest state for pedestrians and cyclists! That’s no surprise if you’re a Florida resident and you’ve turned on the local news lately. In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided statistics showing that, although Florida only has 6% of the nation’s total population, the state accounted for 11.1% of pedestrian deaths and 17.4% of cyclist deaths across the entire United States. Florida’s high rates are likely because of very high population increases over the last few decades, a plethora of tourism locations across the state, and warm weather which allows more people to be out and about. Other states that are high on the list are Nevada, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Maryland.
As the numbers for deaths of cyclists and pedestrians are trending upwards, one can’t help but notice another rising trend: texting and driving incidents. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) formed in response to drunk driving deaths and they pushed for stricter laws against alcohol before any laws even existed. We are already seeing new organizations form that are bringing awareness to the texting and driving trend and laws establishing a civil penalty are being implemented throughout the nation. But as deaths continue to mount, I would not be surprised if we soon see criminal liability placed on violators of these texting while driving infractions.
It’s no debate that texting while driving takes the driver’s attention off the road, which results in accidents. But, heck… inattention in general is on the rise. You have people fidgeting with the radio, dipping their french fries in ketchup, and even carefully applying make-up at speeds of 75 miles per hour in heavy traffic. And the drivers aren’t the only “movers” that are inattentive, these days. Pedestrians, and even cyclists, are constantly looking down at their smart phones, eReaders, and other devices… anything to NOT look someone in the eye. It seems like there is a complete breakdown of social behavior in America. Have you gotten on the elevator with a stranger, lately? Did you say, “hi,” or did you just burry yourself in your smart phone? It’s an epidemic!
We are now seeing this culture of inattentiveness blossom and the trend of pedestrian and cyclist deaths is exploding. People are moving around completely oblivious to their surroundings and only concerned with themselves and their own little bubbles of oneness. These people that are only concerned with themselves are usually the same people that flee the scene of an accident in which they are at fault. Sure, some may flee because of outstanding warrants and insurance issues, but with the degradation of social behavior in our nation, it is equally likely that these people are fleeing because they know that they can get away with it. This social breakdown is a reality and, unfortunately, will likely continue. It is hideously awful.
Lets move to correct this terrible trend by vowing to become more attentive when in public. It’s not all just about you… it’s about ALL of us. We need to put down our devices and start being a loving, caring, social species once again; teach your family and friends to do the same. And just in case there comes a day when you do find yourself at the wrong end of one of these situations, protect yourself and your family by carrying the maximum uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance that you can afford. In this crazy world of texters, tweeters, and googlers, it’s best to be safe than sorry.
Be safe out there.
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