Traffic deaths in the U.S. are continuing their historic decline. The newest statistics show they fell to the lowest level since 1949. The numbers for 2011 indicate a 1.9 percent decrease with traffic deaths in general, but fatal crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians are up.
Nationally, fatalities rose 8.7 percent for bicyclists, 3 percent for pedestrians and 2.1 percent for motorcyclists. In Florida, the statistics are even worse. The Florida Highway Patrol says bicyclist fatalities increased by nearly 58 percent, motorcycle deaths are up 18 percent and teen deaths are up 7 percent. So far this year, Jacksonville has had 28 pedestrians and nine bicyclists killed.
Earlier this year, FHP Lt. Chris Miller gave recommendations on how to avoid accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists. Lt. Miller said pedestrians should make sure to walk on sidewalks, as per Florida law, and to walk in the grass ” not in bicycle lanes ” if no sidewalks are available. Pedestrians also should walk facing oncoming traffic and wear light-colored clothing to aide in visibility. Pedestrians, he said, only have the right of way at crossing walks and should only cross the road at designated areas.
Bicyclists are required to use the bicycle lane and ride with the flow of traffic, as per state law, Miller said. They also should obey all traffic laws ” stopping at red lights and stop signs, among other laws ” and use headlights and taillights when riding at night. Bicyclists also are encouraged to wear light-colored clothing to aide in visibility. Miller also noted drivers should give bicyclists at least three feet when passing, and should be on the lookout for bicycles and motorcycles while driving to create a safer driving environment.
FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said as of Tuesday, December 11, 2012, Florida has seen more than 13,000 pedestrian crashes and more than 8,000 cyclist crashes this year. He said there have been 81 fatal crashes in Jacksonville in 2012.