Pedestrians & Drivers Share Responsibility in Avoiding Accidents in Tampa & Clearwater
Beautiful year-round weather in the Tampa Bay Area is what draws vacationers and snowbirds as well as the growing dense population that calls the area home year round. That weather, population density and high influx of drivers are what set the stage for having such a high ratio of auto accidents involving pedestrians as compared to other parts of the country. Even for a skilled auto accident lawyer, Tampa car and pedestrian accidents can be far from cut and dry when it comes to clear evidence for who was primarily at fault.
In Florida, drivers can get a citation for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, while pedestrians and bicyclists can be fined for not crossing in a crosswalk. This equity in responsibility doesn’t necessarily play out in real life as the majority of pedestrian-related crashes and fatalities stem from mistakes made on the part of the pedestrian.
It is important to remember that the Tampa Bay area is a decidedly car-oriented region even though the weather and other factors mean that there are higher percentages of pedestrians than in other major metropolitan cities. Despite the fact that FDOT, Clearwater and the city of Tampa ensure that pedestrian crossing signals provide sufficient time to cross, pedestrians still cross mid-block at high rates.
This is not to say that drivers cannot be at fault, or that pedestrians ignore the lights, but that accidents happen when drivers and pedestrians are both impatient. When impatient drivers and pedestrians clash, it opens a grey area in the recounting of many accidents.
Sometimes, the pedestrian waited for the light and stepped into the intersection and was hit, while sometimes they do not wait for the light and are hit. Conversely, the driver could have pushed the envelope of a changing light and hit the pedestrian entering the intersection lawfully at the right time. While these scenarios can be murky even for an auto accident lawyer, Clearwater attorneys with the greatest experience in these situations can marshal experts to help recreate the incident if need be.
In addition, some areas in the Tampa Bay area are particular problem areas for pedestrian/auto accidents. Some areas are highly commercial with no crosswalks and long blocks between intersections with stop lights, which can lead people to cross illegally. Busy four-way stop sign intersections can amp confusion when all parties are inpatient to go.
There are also several areas where high schools are adjacent to high traffic areas. Students who are walking to stores and other commercial retail centers are highly prone to crossing in the middle of the block as opposed to legally crossing near an intersection. While these can all be important factors in determining the legal standing in car/pedestrian accidents for an experienced auto accident lawyer, Tampa drivers will always shoulder the primary burden of responsibility to remain vigilante even if the pedestrian is in the wrong.
By state statute, pedestrians should always use the crosswalk or at least cross at an intersection if a marked crosswalk is not available. Since this is not always the case, both drivers and pedestrians in the Tampa Bay area must always be vigilant and exercise caution when driving on the roads or crossing them. Ultimately, this is the only way to save lives and avoid injuries.