In a fast-growing state, more cars, plus more bicyclists, plus more people crossing streets and roads, add up to more danger for pedestrians.
Without the wraparound armor of a car or truck, people on the streets are at the mercy of motorists who may or may not be paying attention.
The odds are stacked against the pedestrians. Nonprofit organization Smart Growth America has ranked Florida as the most dangerous state for pedestrians from 2010 through 2019, and the Orlando metropolitan area the most dangerous for pedestrians in the country.
On its official website, www.flhsmv.gov, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes that for the decade 2011-2020, there were 8,043 pedestrian crashes, which resulted in 709 deaths.
Volusia County logged 288 of those crashes involving pedestrians, and 32 of those were fatal.
“Ninety-four percent of the accidents are caused by human behavior,” Florida Department of Transportation District 5 Secretary Jared Perdue said.
No one could say what caused the remaining 6 percent of the accidents.
In October, with the Sunshine State’s high incidence of car-versus-pedestrian crashes, Florida Secretary of Transportation Kevin Thibault joined with Perdue and Stetson University President Dr. Christopher F. Roellke to promote awareness of the dangers of being on foot on the roadways. The joint appearance at the intersection of North Woodland Boulevard and Minnesota Avenue — the very heart of the Stetson campus — ended with a commitment to work toward safety.
Asked if any of his students have been injured or involved in any collisions with vehicles, Roellke replied, “Fortunately, there has not been any, but we’ve had some close calls.”
The new president of Stetson said he frequently crosses North Woodland at the intersection and sees and talks with students, faculty and others waiting to traverse across the street.
“They do express concern about the traffic, and I do hope we can think about how we can make it better,” he added.
Volusia County Traffic Engineering’s traffic counts for 2019 — the most recent year for which data are available — show that a daily average of 19,300 cars and trucks move on the segment of North Woodland Boulevard between New York and Plymouth avenues.
Thibault said the FDOT is addressing pedestrian-safety problems as part of the state’s overall transportation planning. Perdue agreed.
“Every district has projects for safety, capacity and improved mobility,” Perdue said. “We have projects that are in various phases of development, and these have been supported by the community.”
Roellke said Stetson, meanwhile, is working to reduce the likelihood of vehicles colliding with people on the streets that crisscross the campus.
“We still have to promote education, because not everyone follows the rules of the road,” he noted, turning to the Woodland/Minnesota crossing. “Certainly, this intersection gets a lot of attention and an awful lot of pedestrian traffic.”