Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Sunshine is in the Florida forecast all year long – tempting us not only to step out our front doors but to take a walk or hop on our bikes. Whether to reach fitness goals or do our part to minimize traffic and pollution, there are many reasons to leave the car in the driveway. Our area has made great strides in adding bike lanes and crosswalks. However, the proximity to heavy traffic still results in too many accidents. In fact, Florida leads the nation in bicycle and pedestrian accidents, with nearly 17,000 incidents recorded in 2021, the last year complete statistical reports were made available. (Source: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.)
Did You Know? In the first three months of 2023 alone, Florida authorities reported 2,008 accidents involving motorists and bicyclists; and 2,501 accidents involving motorists and pedestrians.
Bicycle Accidents – Statistics
● According to 2021 Florida Traffic Crash Records and statistics, approximately one-quarter of bicycle accidents involved riders impaired by drugs or alcohol. While driving a car in this condition is clearly illegal, the loss of balance, judgment, and awareness are equally dangerous when bikes are ridden on roads alongside motorists.
● Most Florida bicycle accident fatalities occur over the winter months, while summer months seem to be the safest for bicyclists. This is likely because high heat and potential rainstorms dissuade many bikers from hitting the road during summer. While car accidents happen more frequently in bad weather, 80% of bicycle accidents occur in mild, clear weather – such as over a typical Florida winter when many more cyclists venture out.
● AAA has reported that hit-and-run accidents involving both bicyclists and pedestrians have been increasing in recent years. This troubling statistic is attributed to the fact that distracted driving is also on the rise, and motorists panic when their lack of attention to the road turns tragic.
Pedestrian Accidents – Statistics
Over the last fifteen years, pedestrian traffic has only increased by an average of 1% – yet crashes involving pedestrians and motorists have grown by 35%. Once again, experts point to a significant increase in distracted driving, likely due to the proliferation of smartphones and devices.
Florida accounts for over 1/10th of the pedestrian accidents and fatalities nationwide annually, a disproportionate amount of incidents likely due to good weather, many pedestrians, and an influx of tourists.
Who is Legally Liable for Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents?
If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may wonder how to determine who is at fault – and if you have a legal claim for compensation.
Because bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as cars and trucks, the liable party is the one whose negligence or mistake caused the accident. For instance, if a bicyclist ignores a stop sign and is hit by a car in the intersection, the motorist is generally not held liable. However, if the bicyclist is riding in a legal and designated bike lane and a distracted motorist hits them, the vehicle driver would typically be found at fault.
Motorists too often assume – incorrectly – that the right of way always belongs to the motorized vehicle. However, all Florida drivers are required to understand the traffic laws as they apply to pedestrians and bicyclists. In many local Gulf Coast communities, pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks – a fact many tourists and out-of-state drivers may not realize.
If you were injured in an accident involving a motorist while walking or biking, call the accident attorneys at Hale Law immediately. We will help you gather the necessary documentation and evidence to determine if you are entitled to legal compensation. Remember, you don’t pay unless we win. Call Hale Law today to learn more.