Florida Seeks to Improve Driver and Pedestrian Education

 

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has initiated a program called “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow”, which is designed to increase awareness regarding pedestrians and cyclists and increase the amount of visible enforcement of rules related to pedestrians and cyclists in areas with higher concentrations of both. FDOT has partnered with the University of Northern Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM) to assist in the implementation of this program and is providing a grant to IPTM to see the program implemented in 25 counties in the state.

Pedestrian and cyclist safety are issues throughout Florida. “The campaign is designed to educate pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to ensure that all those who share the road remain safe,” said Fred Cunningham, a West Palm Beach Pedestrian Accident Attorney with the law firm of Domnick Cunningham & Whalen. Generally speaking, pedestrians have the right-of-way as it pertains to pedestrian/motor vehicle interaction, but Florida’s campaign has shifted its focus to enabling pedestrians and motorists to avoid accidents. The program encourages:

1) Cyclists and pedestrians to wear items at night that will allow motorists to see them;

2) Pedestrians to avoid “distracted walking” by stepping to the side if they need to use the

phone; and,

3) Drivers to avoid “distracted driving” by not using mobile phones while operating a vehicle.

Studies in the state have found that pedestrian injuries due to cell phone usage are up 35 percent since 2010. Those studies have also found that distracted pedestrians:

1) Walk slower and take longer to cross roads;

2) Are less likely to pay attention to pedestrian signals;

3) Are more likely to walk in front of a vehicle and less likely to see objects in their paths; and,

4) Are more likely to veer off course.

Each of these points can put pedestrians in more dangerous situations than they would otherwise be. Additionally, even though pedestrians have the right of way, it does not prevent a driver from arguing that the distracted pedestrians’ actions contributed to their injuries if struck by a vehicle. Florida law recognizes the concept of “pure comparative negligence” which allows a defendant to claim that the actions of a plaintiff contributed to his or her injuries, thereby reducing the amount of damages that can be claimed by a pedestrian. If a defendant can prove that you were looking at your phone instead of paying attention to traffic, he or she may be able to reduce your claim partly or even completely.

If you have been struck by a vehicle while walking, do not hesitate to hire a Pedestrian Accident Attorney. An experienced attorney will get to work immediately, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing medical records to ensure that the best possible argument is made for your claim.

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