PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — New numbers show that 2022 was the deadliest year for pedestrians across the United States in the last 40 years.
More than 7,500 pedestrians died on U.S. roads last year, the highest number since 1981. Florida ended up being one of the three deadliest states.
The numbers are from a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Transportation officials in Tampa Bay have taken notice.
Chelsea Favero is a planning manager with Forward Pinellas, a transportation planning agency which works to make roads safer.
She says it’s unfortunate that Florida continues to be high on lists like this.
“It doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure. I have two young children and I want them to live in a community where it’s safe for them to get around walking and biking. And the challenges we have here in Pinellas County make that difficult,” Favero said.
According to Forward Pinellas, there were 112 fatal crashes in Pinellas County in 2022.
Favero is working to help improve those numbers, though the Pinellas Safe Streets Plan.
As an example, Favero helped improve an intersection on Nursery Road and the Pinellas Trail, where a bicyclist was hit by a car and killed.
“We worked with our partners in Pinellas County to have an enhanced crosswalk installed that has rapid flash beacons and additional markings. It really just brings more attention to drivers that there is a pedestrian or bicyclist present when trying to cross the road,” Favero said.
She says projects like that are critical to help reduce fatalities. Many of the accidents are caused by high speed or lack of sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure.
Favero says distracted driving is another cause.
“When you’re driving around, pay attention to those surroundings. Understand you are not the only ones on the road. Just a little bit of extra time, paying attention, will have a significant amount of safety on everyone,” Favero said.