Polk County seems idyllic in so many ways. For those of us who live here, we’ve fallen in love with the many lakes and waterways, the delicious, local dining options, the amazing sunsets, the close proximity to the coast and major attractions, and of course, the beautiful downtown areas where you can browse markets and shops. Unfortunately, many locals aren’t comfortable enjoying our communities the way we used to because of one big reason.
Dangerous drivers on our local roads.
Just this week it was announced that Polk County ranked 9th in the country for pedestrian fatalities in 2021. This is a terrible statistic and we grieve for both the families of the victims who were killed, and the blemish this ranking places on our hometowns. Polk County and city officials have been facing the question, “What can be done to make our roads safer?” and as of Monday, they had begun to assemble a plan to lower these unfortunate numbers and decrease pedestrian collisions and fatalities in our area.
While the officials are working through securing a federal grant (“Safe Streets for All Roads”) and determining their next steps, our team at Brooks Law Group believes it’s important to give you, the pedestrian, some key ways to protect yourself and your family when you’re out on our local streets. When you’re venturing out on foot for Winter Haven’s nightlife downtown, or shopping the Farmer’s Market in Lakeland on Saturdays, remember to:
- Use designated crosswalks and signals. These crosswalks are put in place for a reason, and not only are you protecting yourself legally when you use them to cross the street, but you’re also better protecting yourself from bodily injury. Failing to use a crosswalk means you’re more likely to step out in front of traffic that isn’t prepared to stop. It’s always best to play it safe and make the extra effort to find a crosswalk.
- Try to cross in brightly lit areas when on foot at night. When you’re walking or running for exercise, it’s common to wear reflective clothing or carry a light of some sort to alert drivers to your presence. When you’re simply going out to dinner with friends though, you won’t be as likely to take these precautions. Crossing in areas with plenty of light from street lamps and businesses will provide an extra level of protection for you when crossing in front of traffic.
- Save the earbuds for later. Earbuds, headphones, and cell phones are the norm now, but they carry a huge risk for pedestrians. When you’re distracted or can’t hear what’s going on around you, you’re less likely to be aware of oncoming traffic, a car horn, someone yelling at you, or a siren. These could all be factors in you being struck by a vehicle, and it’s never worth the risk of hearing a few more minutes of your podcast or finishing that conversation with a friend. Put down the phone, take out the earbuds, and get across the street safely.
Brooks Law Group is experienced in representing pedestrians all over the Polk County area following an accident. We support our clients both in and out of the courtroom, providing reassurance, careful explanation, and encouragement until their case is closed. Our top priority is getting the justice you deserve and the compensation you need when you’ve been injured by the recklessness or negligence of another. When accidents happen, Look to Brooks!