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Florida Takes Top Spot In New Report On Pedestrian Deaths

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Florida has topped the list for pedestrian deaths, according to a new report, with the Orlando-Kissimmee area taking the number one spot.

The report, by the National Complete Streets Coalition, found that Miami-Ft. Lauderdale ranked 14th with 1,549 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017.

The coalition said, on average, drivers strike and kill an estimated 13 pedestrians every day. They're calling for steps to be taken to make America's roads safer.

"Over the past decade we've had 50,000 pedestrians struck and killed while walking on roads in the United States," said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition.

The group's report found pedestrian deaths increased 35 percent from 2008 to 2017. One reason for the increase is that people are driving more, often in larger vehicles.

"More people are driving SUV's and trucks which we know kill pedestrians at a higher rate," said Atherton.

Distracted driving is also an issue but Atherton says many of America's roads have a dangerous design.

Modern streets are often wide, with higher speed limits and longer blocks. Because there are fewer lights and crosswalks, pedestrians tend to run across where they shouldn't.

Many of these roads can be found in the nation's Sunbelt which is another reason Florida tops the list with eight of the top ten most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

"Florida really epitomizes big, flat, wide roads and sprawling land use and when you look there's a high link between sprawl and traffic fatalities," said Atherton.

The coalition is calling on Congress to make changes, like lowering speed limits in areas where there's a lot of foot traffic and adding more crosswalks with ample time to get across them.

"No one should be killed when they are trying to cross the street," said Atherton.

But Atherton believes that won't happen until policymakers make pedestrian safety a higher priority.

The National Complete Streets Coalition also wants to see better street lighting so drivers can see people walking at night.

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