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Pedestrian And Bicycle-Related Traffic Crashes A Growing Problem

Between January 1, 2014 and June 15, 2021, there were 2,489 pedestrian- and bicyclist-related vehicle crashes in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties; 181 of those crashes were fatal.

“It’s a pretty predominant occurrence to where we have pedestrians or bicyclists that are involved in traffic crashes,” said Sgt. Ron Livingston of the Florida Highway Patrol.

But what are some of the causes of these crashes?

Oftentimes, the pedestrian or bicyclist is at fault, not the motorist. Many times, pedestrians fail to use crosswalks or are not wearing reflective clothing at night.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, most pedestrian and bicycle-related crashes occur at night. Alcohol on the part of the pedestrian or bicyclist is one of the primary contributing factors to these crashes, Livingston said.

“Obviously when you get alcohol involved, the first thing that goes is your depth perception," Livingston said. “If someone under the influence tries to cross the street, oftentimes they look to the left and think that the vehicle is a lot further away than what it is. Next thing you know, they jump out and get hit.”

Throughout FDOT’s third district, which encompasses the Florida panhandle, Escambia County is home to the majority of pedestrian- and bicycle-related crashes. The southwest corner of the county is where most of the accidents occur, as many residents who live in the region of the county rely on bicycling or walking as their primary mode of transportation.

Mobile Highway and Fairfield Drive are some of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians and bicyclists in Escambia County. Areas of Fairfield Drive also have a notable homeless population. In some cases, homeless individuals are the victims of pedestrian fatalities in that area, one business owner said.

“We have a high traffic count, and we have more people standing on the street corner walking about,” the business owner near Fairfield Drive and Pace Boulevard said. He asked to remain anonymous. “With that, you’re going to have some issues.”

The business owner also stated that over the last two years, he has seen two pedestrian-related traffic fatalities near his business. He also said that in many cases, the victim is often under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What should be done to limit these crashes from occurring? Sgt. Livingston believes that educating the community is key to solving the problem.

“We try everything we can to limit these crashes as much as possible,” he said. “But until you get buy-in from these people, it’s kind of difficult.”

Here are some safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:

  • Always follow the rules of the road
  • Obey traffic signals and signs
  • Use a crosswalk when crossing the street
  • Bicyclists should always ride in the same direction as traffic
  • Bicyclists should stay as far to the right of the road as possible

Motorists should always stay alert and yield to bicyclists in the bike lane. Also, be sure to give bicyclists a minimum of three feet clearance when passing them.

For more information on pedestrian and bicycle safety tips, click here.

This story is part of an ongoing series. If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian or bicyclist vehicle crash, email hunter@wuwf.org to share your story.

Hunter joined WUWF in 2021 as a student reporter.