Florida Pedestrian Safety Laws: An Overview
Florida is the second-most dangerous state for pedestrians. Only California had more pedestrian deaths from 2016 to 2020. Even when you consider the statistics by population, Florida has the second-highest rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents after New Mexico.
A major contributor to Florida’s ranking is the Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater metropolitan area. This area covering Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties contributed to the second-most pedestrian accidents and pedestrian deaths after the Miami metro area and the second-highest pedestrian fatality rate after the Daytona Beach metro area.
Florida’s Pedestrian Laws
Shockingly, seven of the 20 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians are in Florida. California is the only other state with multiple metro areas listed in the top 20, and it only has three.
Florida earned these numbers despite having laws to protect pedestrians from vehicle traffic. Florida has, for the most part, the same pedestrian laws as other states. But flagrant violations along with weak enforcement have made these laws relatively toothless in stopping pedestrian accidents.
Florida has two types of pedestrian safety laws:
Laws Protecting Pedestrians
Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control laws define how pedestrians and vehicles should interact.
Yielding the Right of Way
Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians:
- In a marked crosswalk on, or moving into, their side of the road
- Crossing the road or entering the road from the curb at an intersection, whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked
When a car stops to yield the right of way to pedestrians, drivers approaching the stopped car cannot pass the stopped vehicle.
Violating any of these rules constitutes a moving violation that carries a fine of $60. If the violation injures a pedestrian or damages the pedestrian’s property, the court can impose an additional fine of $250.
Yielding To Special Pedestrians
In two situations, drivers must stop for special pedestrians regardless of where they try to cross the road. First, drivers must stop for visually impaired people trying to cross the road at any location. This applies when the driver sees someone trying to cross the road with a white cane, a white cane tipped with red, or a service dog.
Second, drivers must stop for mobility-impaired people trying to cross the road at an intersection. This law protects anyone with a visible mobility assistance device, such as a wheelchair, crutch, cane, walker, or service dog.
Exercising Due Care
Florida has a catch-all law so that drivers do not endanger pedestrians simply because they were not crossing within a crosswalk or at an intersection. Under the catch-all law, drivers have two distinct legal requirements.
First, drivers must “exercise due care” to avoid hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist. Under the law, due care means that the driver must act in an objectively reasonable manner. Thus, a driver would violate this responsibility by acting in a way that no reasonable driver would act.
Second, drivers must give a warning, such as honking their horn, and “exercise proper precaution” when they see either of these on the road:
- A child
- A confused or incapacitated person
As with visually or mobility-impaired people, drivers must take extra care around children and visibly confused or incapacitated people. But unlike visually or mobility-impaired pedestrians, the driver does not need to yield unless “proper precaution” dictates it.
If the driver sees children playing near a St. Petersburg road, the driver would be wise to slow down. But the driver does not need to yield unless they see the children move toward the road.
Florida laws also tell pedestrians what they cannot do, including:
- Running into traffic
- Crossing against a traffic signal
- Crossing diagonally across a road
- Crossing kitty-corner across an intersection
- Walking around or under a railroad or bridge gate
- Standing in the road to solicit a job, ride, or business
- Crossing between intersections outside of a marked crosswalk
- Walking with traffic instead of against traffic when on the shoulder
- Standing in the road to block cars from parking in a parking space
- Walking on the road or shoulder where they could walk on the sidewalk
Violating these rules will result in a pedestrian violation that carries a fine.
Laws To Prevent Driver Actions That Can Harm Pedestrians
Florida also has some preventive laws. A driver can violate these laws even without pedestrians present simply by doing something that could endanger pedestrians.
Speeding is dangerous. Speeding usually falls in the top three causes of crashes in Florida.
But speeding also endangers pedestrians, particularly in school zones and work zones. Speeding in a school or work zone carries extra penalties. Drivers who speed in a school or work zone must pay double the speeding fines with a minimum fine of $50.
Not Yielding in a Work Zone
Drivers must yield to construction workers and follow instructions from construction zone flaggers. Violating these rules constitutes a moving violation with a minimum fine of $60.
Avoiding Safety Zones
Safety zones are areas in roadways set aside for pedestrian use only. For example, the police could shut down a street for a festival or concert.
Drivers cannot enter safety zones. Even if they do not hit a pedestrian, simply entering the safety zone will justify a moving violation.
Passing School Buses
Drivers cannot pass a parked school bus with its lights flashing. Since the bus blocks the driver’s view of children crossing the road, the law requires drivers on both sides of the road to stop.
Drivers who violate this law commit a moving violation. Prosecutors can upgrade this charge to a criminal moving violation, with the possibility of jail time, if the driver passes the school bus on its right side.
Walking Safely in Florida
Florida drivers injure and kill a lot of pedestrians despite these safety laws. Unfortunately, once you get run over, a citation issued to the driver does nothing to help you. But you might be able to seek compensation from negligent drivers for your injuries and other damages by speaking to an experienced car accident lawyer.
The best way to avoid this situation is to walk defensively. You should always assume that drivers do not see you and walk with caution. This can help you avoid injuries or even death. Furthermore, if you were involved in a pedestrian accident in the Tampa Bay Area, contact a pedestrian injury lawyer to help you go through the process and get a fair compensation for your case.