Pedestrian crashes spike in Jacksonville


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's an alarming trend -- crash after crash in which pedestrians are getting seriously hurt or killed in northeast Florida.

A man was hit in Arlington on Thursday morning and was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

An 87-year-old woman was killed trying to cross a Westside road Wednesday. On Monday, a man was hit and killed on the Southside. And last week a teen was killed walking to Wolfson High School.

Those are just the latest of hundreds of people hit while walking on Jacksonville's roads.

The Florida Highway Patrol says there has been a spike in pedestrian crashes over the last few weeks. State troopers say dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times, and distracted driving and walking are some of the biggest causes.

Florida has the title no state wants -- the most dangerous place for pedestrians.

The organization Transportation for America ranked the top cities across the country, and Jacksonville claimed the No. 3 spot, only behind Orlando and Tampa.

There have been more than 30,000 car crashes on Duval County roads so far this year. FHP said 104 have been fatal.

Crashes involving pedestrians make up a large number. Troopers say 399 people have been hit so far in 2013, compared to 456 for all of last year, and 397 in 2011.

There have been 28 fatal crashes so far this year. There were 31 all of last year and 21 in 2011.

Troopers say the deadliest roads are 103rd Street and Timuquana Road, Beach and Atlantic boulevards.

"The single-largest factor is they're not crossing at a crosswalk," FHP Capt. Keith Gaston said.

State troopers are noticing the trend and trying to stop it. They say many times distracted driving and walking are to blame.

"You see people walking down the sidewalk all the time, and you see them texting on their phones, or they're talking on the phone," Gaston said. "Anything that divides your attention, you've got a problem. You can't do two things at one time and do both of them well."

"Even if you have permission to cross the street, you've got to watch all the traffic because somebody may not be paying close attention to you," Channel 4 safety expert Ken Jefferson said.

He said it seems like common sense that staying in crosswalks and walking defensively will cut down the risk of getting hit.

"We have the right of way. We've got the sign that says it's OK to walk, but we've got to pay attention to that car that just turned behind us," Jefferson said. "Because they made a right turn and a lot of times they're not paying attention to the right. They're looking to the left to make sure that traffic is clear. And if they're making a right turn, sometimes they drive right into pedestrians."

Jefferson said before crossing the road, pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers so they know drivers see them. State troopers say don't wear dark clothing. And wearing a reflective vest while out for a walk or run after dark could save someone's life.

State troopers say they've been having meetings to address the spike in pedestrian crashes. FHP is going to be having troopers spend more time keeping an eye out for pedestrians and making sure they're obeying the rules of the road.