Where is the most dangerous place in the United States for pedestrians? Speaking as a dedicated walker, I would say it’s anywhere that drivers aren’t paying careful attention — and, say, fail to look both ways before taking a right turn on red. Many close calls are caused by simple driver distraction or failure to follow the basic rules of the road.
That’s a truism, but is there a geographic area where car-pedestrian accidents are most commonplace? New York City, perhaps? Or one of the car-culture cities in California? Or maybe a party place like New Orleans, where the mix of impaired drivers and impaired walkers could produce collisions?
It’s none of those guesses: instead, according to one recent study, the most dangerous place to walk is the Orlando region of central Florida. The study found that, between 2008 and 2017, nearly 50,000 people walking the streets of the United States — 49,340 to be precise — were killed by collisions with vehicles. Of that number, 5,433 pedestrians died in Florida accidents, and 656 died in the Orlando-Sanford-Kissimmee metropolitan area. In fact, the study found that the six most deadly metropolitan areas for walkers in the U.S. are all in Florida.
The article doesn’t offer explanations about why Florida is a death trap for pedestrians, but some contributing factors seem obvious. First, it’s got a lot of older drivers who probably are not operating at peak mental or physical condition. Seniors who get behind the wheel when they are experiencing declining eyesight, failing hearing, and slowing reflexes obviously pose a greater risk of accidents. And Florida’s tourist destination status means that many of its drivers on any given day are likely to be visitors who are unfamiliar with traffic patterns or pedestrian walkways. And some of them might be distracted by, say, overexcited kids who are ready for the Magic Kingdom and are raising a ruckus in the back seat.
There’s a lesson lurking in all of this: if you want to walk in Florida, do it on a beach. The streets are just too dangerous.