Bay County deadliest in state for pedestrians

A new study by Transportation for America has highlighted some sobering statistics. Bay County has been determined to be the deadliest metro area in the state for pedestrians, and Florida is the overall deadliest state in the nation.

Sadly, fatal pedestrian accidents in the Panama City area are not uncommon. The study, called Dangerous by Design, shows that 64 people in the Panama City area were struck and killed by motorists while walking or bicycling between 2000 and 2009. That amounts to four in every 100,000 residents.

As for the state, 5,163 pedestrians reportedly died over the same period, making Florida the most dangerous state for pedestrians. The study apparently did not take tourists and visitors into account.

Aside from possibly skewed numbers due to visitors, what other factors make the area so seemingly dangerous for pedestrians? According to the Panama City News Herald, county officials have admitted there are too many pedestrian deaths in the area. A lack of sidewalks and proper lighting might be factors.

County officials say they are working to improve bicycle-pedestrian safety. They are particularly concerned with including better bike lanes on streets and improving the network of sidewalks, especially near schools. And, if pedestrians wore lighter clothing and attempted to be more visible, that could help.

Another factor might be drug or alcohol use by either motorist or pedestrians.

Particularly with tight budgets, it can be difficult to implement expensive improvements. However, officials hope the changes being made will make a positive difference in the long run.

Source: Panama City News Herald, “Bay County deadliest metro area in state for pedestrians, bicyclists,” Aug. 7, 2011