Florida Had Another Awful Year of Pedestrian Deaths in 2017

Monica McGivern
Florida, as a state, is so poorly planned and designed that simply walking around city streets is legitimately dangerous. Cars clip pedestrians all the time — every year, the state has ranked either first or near the top when it comes to the number of people run over by cars.

And according to newly released government data, 2017 was no different. Preliminary figures released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) last week show that, by virtually every measure, Florida was an awful state for pedestrians through the first half of last year. When it comes to total pedestrian deaths, Florida ranked number two overall. The state is also fifth worst when the rankings were adjusted for population.

The total number of Floridians hit by cars actually increased during that period from 2016 to 2017: Two hundred ninety-nine pedestrians were run over from January through June of 2016, compared to 303 the following year. That figure ranked behind only California's 352 deaths despite the fact that the Golden State's population is nearly twice that of the Sunshine State.

Per 100,000 people, Florida came in fifth, behind Arizona, New Mexico, Delaware, and Louisiana, all states that suffer from massive urban sprawl and poor planning. Arizona, with 1.61 deaths per 100,000 people, came in first by far, but Florida's ranking (1.43 deaths) was only 0.05 points behind number two New Mexico (0.48.) Florida ranked second worst in this category in 2016.

Florida was one of five states (along with Texas, California, Arizona, and New York) that accounted for 43 percent of all walking deaths through the first six months of 2017.

In light of the fact that absolutely nothing seems to have changed year over year statewide when it comes to pedestrian safety, it's easy to assume Miami-Dade County accounted for a huge portion of those fatalities. In 2016, 83 people were run over in Dade — the fifth-worst single-county tally in the nation. Broward County came in ninth:
Governors Highway Safety Association
This isn't exactly news to South Floridians, who know that walking or biking on many of Dade County's poorly lit roads means risking their lives to some degree. The vast majority of Miami-Dade is optimized for car traffic and car traffic alone. Many roads in residential areas of the county don't even have sidewalks.

Miami's bicyclists have similar issues: Florida regularly ranks number one when it comes to bicycling deaths, and the ranking really never seems to deviate or improve. Miami and Miami Beach have painted more bike lanes onto roads in recent years, but bikers are forced to contend with Dade County's lunatic drivers across most of the metro area. As of 2016, Miami was the fourth-deadliest cycling city in America, behind Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.

For a visual guide as to why the state is a nightmare for anyone trying to travel by any method other than a car, here's a handy (and terrifying) GoPro video compilation by a local rider in 2016:

The GHSA guessed that a few different factors could be at play nationwide: The increased legalization of marijuana, they argued, could be leading to more impaired people walking or driving cars. The GHSA also blamed increased cell-phone usage for accidents too. But overall, the stats appear to reflect poor city planning. Florida, for example, is large, spread out, and designed for cars to cruise on highways without slowing down.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.