Pedestrians are being killed at an alarming rate on the streets of Central Florida.
In fact, a study ranks Orlando as the nation’s worst when it people being hit and killed.
Orlando resident David Velez, 34, has scars on his body after he was struck by a car in 2004. He said it happened on Pine Hills Road while he was in the crosswalk.
Velez said he was sent flying 12 feet in the air and spent over a month in a coma.
“When I’m around a car and see it coming, it scares me,” Velez said.
“Our drivers are not focusing their attention on driving,” said Sgt. Kim Montes with Florida Highway Patrol.
FDOT kicked off its statewide Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow campaign in an effort to raise public awareness about pedestrian safety.
They encourage people to:
- Always use the crosswalk
- Stop before turning right on red
- Look before crossing
- Yield to pedestrians
- Pay attention to the road, every time, every trip
In Florida, over the last 12 years there have been over 6,100 pedestrians killed, costing the state over $22 billion, according to the group Transportation for America.
Rene Rubiella is working to make streets safer for people in Central Florida. His heart broke eight years ago when his only daughter, Allie, was killed in a car accident.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t miss her, not a day goes by that we don’t think about her,” Rubiella said.
He said the 18-year-old was distracted behind the wheel by her cell phone – and so were the other drivers on the road that day. He’s been fighting for tougher texting and driving laws in Florida particularly for teenagers.
Rubiella envisions a law named after his daughter that would require all drivers between the age of 16 and 18 to have their phone turned off while they are in the car.
Best Foot Forward, an Orlando-based group looking to make our streets safer, listed the top 10 corridors in MetroPlan Orlando's Pedestrian Safety Action Plan that will be looked at because of the high number of accidents in the areas.
- Semoran Blvd. (SR 436) from Colonial Drive to Old Cheney Hwy
- Edgewater Drive (SR 424) from Lee Road to Forest City Road
- Oak Ridge Road from South Orange Blossom Trail (US 441) to Orange Avenue
- Orange Avenue (SR 527) from Gore Street to Kaley Street
- Main Street (US 441) from Vine Street to Old Dixie Hwy
- Kirkman Road (SR 535) from Conroy Road to Summer Oak Street
- Oak Ridge Road from Millenia Blvd. to Wingate Drive
- S. Orange Blossom Trail (US 441) from Grand Street to Kaley Street
- Colonial Drive (SR 50) from Orange Avenue to Magnolia Avenue
- Kirkman Road (SR 535) from Vineland Road to Turnpike Overpass
The majority of deadly pedestrian accidents happen on roads where the speed limit is 40 miles an hour or greater.
Experts with Transportation for America said a pedestrian only has a 15 percent chance of surviving when a car is going that fast.
“One of the things that drivers tell us after a collision is that they never saw the pedestrian until after the last minute,” Montes said.
Troopers said in many cases the pedestrians are at fault, but also said too many drivers are not paying enough attention.
Leaving too many families with a painful, everlasting loss and others with a lifetime of injuries.
Important Safety Reminders from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:
- Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing streets in marked or unmarked crosswalks in most situations. They need to be especially careful at intersections where the failure to yield right-of-way often occurs when drivers are turning onto another street and a pedestrian is in their path.
- When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk. Always stop and look left, right, and left again before crossing. If a parked vehicle is blocking the view of the street, stop at the edge line of the vehicle and look around it before entering the street.
- Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing retro-reflective clothing that helps to highlight body movements. It is much safer to walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.