The year on Jacksonville’s roadways has gotten off to a dangerous start. To date this year, forty-nine people have died in traffic accidents in Jacksonville, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. This is thirteen more deaths than the average for this point in the year and the trend only seems like it will continue. In separate incidents, two pedestrians were struck yesterday, one of whom was a woman who was killed while trying to cross 103rd Street on Jacksonville’s westside.
Pedestrian traffic fatalities are on the rise. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, there have been an average of thirty-nine pedestrian deaths per year during the last five years and roughly one in four traffic deaths in the city involve a pedestrian.
Jacksonville is not known to be a particularly pedestrian friendly city. In fact, for the year of 2016, Jacksonville was rated as the fourth worst city in the country for pedestrian danger according to the National Complete Streets Coalition. Many busy roadways in Jacksonville have no sidewalks, many roads are poorly lit, busy intersections have no crosswalks, crosswalks that do exist often do no provide enough time for slower walkers to get across and pedestrians and drivers often fail to pay attention.
The Florida Highway Patrol has designated April as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month”; however, the blame does not rest solely on drivers. Pedestrians are becoming increasingly distracted by cellphones as they walk. Texting, social media and surfing the net all play a role in “distracted walking,” which can be deadly.
There are things pedestrians can do to avoid being involved in an accident with a vehicle, including:
-wear brightly colored clothing at night;
-carry a flashlight at night;
-do not step out from beside a parked car or hedge when crossing the street;
-cross only at designated crosswalks;
-look left, then right, then left again before crossing;
-do not allow yourself to be distracted when crossing;
-walk on sidewalks when available;
-even if you have a “walk” signal at a crosswalk, make sure that drivers are stopped or coming to a stop;
– do not wear headphones while crossing the roadway;
– do not walk near roadways while intoxicated; and
– if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.