It’s Time for the Florida Strategic Highway Safety Plan to Face the Florida Hazardous Walking Conditions Statute

The Florida Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is “the state’s five-year comprehensive roadway safety plan for achieving Florida’s vision of zero traffic-related fatalities.” The SHSP includes 13 Emphasis Areas that guide Florida’s safety efforts, among them pedestrians and bicyclists.

The current Plan, published in 2016, found that “approximately two-thirds of pedestrian and bicyclist-related fatal crashes occur outside of a marked crosswalk or bicycle lane. A major factor in these crashes is failure to yield the right-of-way on the part of motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.”

Of course, when there is insufficient access to marked crosswalks and there are inadequate pedestrian facilities, pedestrian and bicyclist-related crashes will occur outside of those areas.

But there are other aspects of pedestrian safety that bear on the issue. Since multiple factors are often relevant in traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities, it is impossible to ignore them when dealing with them. For instance, the SHSP notes that between 2011 and 2015, lane departures accounted for 30% of all Florida crashes and 47% of all traffic deaths. For pedestrians walking along or on roadways where there are inadequate pedestrian facilities, lane departures are a grave concern.

Likewise, the inherent dangers associated with intersections, distracted driving, speeding and aggressive driving, all noted among the SHSP’s thirteen Emphasis Areas, deserve consideration.

About intersections, the SHSP notes that “no other location in the transportation system poses greater risks than an intersection,” yet intersections become more complex with every “improvement.”

Ultimately, the SHSP proclaims that “Florida seeks to be a quality place for people to live, learn, work, and play, and is working to ensure everyone has convenient and safe choices for transportation, including walking, biking, and transit,” which includes “a statewide Complete Streets Policy and Implementation Plan, an intersection lighting plan, updated design guidance, a comprehensive communication plan, high-visibility enforcement efforts, (and) a strong emphasis on pedestrian and bicyclist safety education.”

The Florida Strategic Highway Safety Plan should include provisions for ensuring that there is continuity between the SHSP, the Florida Greenbook, and statutes that are or have been enacted to protect student pedestrians, an objective not currently achieved in section 1006.23, the Florida Hazardous Walking Conditions statute.

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