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Pedestrians, bicyclists at risk despite fewer accidents

Statistics show that roads in the Orlando metropolitan area have become safer for motorists and their passengers, but this has apparently not benefited bicyclists and pedestrians, who have a relatively high fatality rate in car accidents. Over the past seven years, the trend in deaths from crashes in the area has been generally downward, despite a slight increase last year.

In 2004, traffic fatalities overall in the area stood at 322, but fell by a significant 39.1 percent by 2010, when only 196 such deaths occurred. There was then a slight increase in 2011 to 213 fatalities in area car accidents.

In stark contrast, however, the mere 3 percent of all accidents in the area involving pedestrians caused pedestrians to make up 30 percent of all recorded deaths. Additionally, the tiny number of bicyclists involved in accidents, representing fewer that 2 percent of all area crashes, represented 3.5 percent of all fatalities.

What this appears to show is that both pedestrians and, to a lesser extent, bike riders, remain extremely vulnerable to injury or death while using roads designed primarily to accommodate the needs of swiftly moving motor vehicles. According to the Orlando Sentinel, some have suggested that the statistics indicate a need for speed limits to be lowered in urban settings to improve the safety of those walking or riding bikes.

Some speculate that enhanced law enforcement, as well as the use of improved safety features in cars may be responsible for the general decline in traffic fatalities. Improvements in providing emergency medical assistance to accident victims may have also had an impact on reducing the number of deaths.

In any case, it’s important for motorists to lookout for walkers and bikers, and for pedestrians to be aware of fast-moving vehicles.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Study: Local roads grow ever safer, but not for cyclists, walkers,” Dan Tracy, Feb. 26, 2012

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