The News-Press editorial follows the front page in-depth story on the high number of roadway fatalities, esp. pedestrians, in 2013. Note that News-Press is using 9 bike fatalities number, while the numbers verified by the Lee MPO (and consistent with BWL records) is 4 bike fatalities in 2013.
News-Press editorial 12/31/13
Whether carelessness is to blame or not, the number of pedestrians dying on Southwest Florida roads in 2013 was too high.
all should be alarmed that 23 pedestrians and nine bicyclists have been
killed on area roads. The deaths are climbing in a state that already
ranks No. 1 in the nation for the number of such fatalities.
numbers should scare us. There have been 82 highway fatalities in Lee
County this year, 18 more than in 2012. Cape Coral is on an especially
upsetting trend with 18 fatalities this year, nearly double its 2012
total of 10.
are not paying attention and neither are pedestrians. They are not
paying attention for any number of reasons, but alcohol and drugs are
reportedly behind more than their fair share. We have seen people die
while walking down the middle of a road, crossing busy intersections
from unsafe locations by attempting to dart across six lanes of roadway.
days of crossing roads the legal way, at red lights or designated
crosswalks, appear to be dwindling. Our inability to exercise patience
and demonstrate a high level of attentiveness are increasing the
likelihood of fatal accidents.
The high number of deaths should be call to action for all of us.
For motorists, slow down and pay attention. Give the right of way to
pedestrians and bicyclists whether they are in the wrong or not. Expect
the unexpected. It can help save lives.
For pedestrians, stay on sidewalks if they exist. Don’t take
unnecessary chances by crossing busy roads and not using designated
For bicyclists, use bike paths, don’t ride against traffic, which only
increases your odds for an accident; and use hand signals to designate
turns. Be aware of your surroundings.
enforcement agencies must make it a priority in 2014 to improve
awareness of safety on our roads. We applaud Cape Coral for its plans to
conduct red-light operations at least twice a month and implement
enforcement operations in various neighborhoods. We hope other area law
enforcement agencies follow suit as well. Conducting various educational
campaigns on driving, walking and pedaling safe also will go a long way
in cutting down on the number of fatalities.
County’s rise in deaths comes at a time when the state is seeing a drop
in traffic fatalities, registering 2,208 deaths this year, compared to
2,427 last year. But Florida remains atop a very dubious perch. From
2000-09, a Transportation for America study ranked the state the most
dangerous in the nation for pedestrians as 5,163 were killed. That
amounts to 11 percent of all those killed nationwide during the same
time period. The county’s pedestrian fatality rate was more than twice
the national average during that time period with 3.4 per 100,000
people. We continually rank among the top 10 worst counties in the state
for pedestrian safety.
We don’t seem to have made much progress since then.
a recent opinion piece in The News-Press, county Commissioner Cecil
Pendergrass, a former Fort Myers detective, says he plans to meet with
various law enforcement and safety agency representatives next month to
discuss possible solutions. It is an important step. He also says the
county is committed to improving curbing and building sidewalks to
improve safety conditions. All municipalities need to look at their road
and sidewalk infrastructure and find ways to improve safety.
is perfect for walking and bicycling. Our weather allows the ability to
do that on most days.
We also have more people than all but three other
states and with that comes a higher risk for accidents. Our local law
enforcement agencies must be aggressive in 2014 in implementing safety
But more than anything, we need to pay attention to what is happening whether we are driving, walking or cycling.