Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Please Think Of Our Kids in Tampa - The Pedestrian Danger Index

Recently, I've become very concerned with the speed at which motorists have been barreling through our neighborhood - and looking at the statistics, I have every reason to be worried.

Here in the gated community of 'The Eagles' in Odessa (north west Tampa), there are many kids walking and playing around the footpaths and the suburban roads.

Please beware - whilst driving, you are in control of a deadly weapon
Although there are signs posted everywhere with reduced speed limits, telling motorists to slow down and watch for children playing and regular stop signs to regulate the vehicles at intersections, speed demons oblivious to it all continue to ignore the dangers to children, and fly down the streets and blow through the stop signs.

The posted speed limit in our street is 18 mp/h (around 29 km/h), however through my own observations and those of other neighbors - it's been a popular discussion point on our local community Facebook page - we estimate that speeds often average anywhere between 35 mp/h to 60 mp/h. At this speed, it would be impossible to stop while coming around one of the bends if there was a young child crossing the road (recently in some instances, drivers have failed to negotiate the bends and have damaged letterboxes - at least that's better than colliding with one of our children).

The signs are posted everywhere in our neighborhood and cannot be missed
We would like to presume that all of these offenders are visiting The Eagles and are not aware of the speed restrictions (and in desperate need of an eye check), but unfortunately we have also observed that members of this small community - our own neighbors - are constantly endangering the lives of pedestrians.

It is also noted that the speeding is not restricted to any particular age group - we see teenagers right
up to those of a more advanced age, seemingly using our streets as their personal Formula One track.

Of course, I understand that as parents we need to educate our children on the dangers of playing in the vicinity of any road or street and teach them appropriate behaviors to cross a street safely. This does not give any driver a reason or excuse to break the law and put our kids' lives at risk!!

The security of The Eagles community and local law enforcement do, from time to time, monitor speeds and intersections in the area and we receive reports on how many tickets and warning notices have been issued (quite an alarming number, actually), but it seems that these activities are restricted mainly to the roads leading in and out of the main bottom entrance (9 Eagles Drive) where the posted limit is 30 mp/h, and stop well short of the roads where we actually live and play.

Last Sunday while the kids were roller-blading on our front driveway and down the footpath, I started to take note of cars rounding the bend in front of our home and crossing the intersection a few doors up. Perhaps one in every ten cars that went past were clearly speeding well above the 18 mp/h limit and at least one in five not only failed to stop at the 3-way stop sign but did not even brake on the approach.

It is only a matter of time until there is a serious accident and/or serious injury to a pedestrian.

With the boys very unhappy with me because there is no cement to skate, I made them play out the back instead of exposing them to the risk of one of these thoughtless motorists losing control and running up our driveway or footpath.

Now for the very alarming statistics - Tampa is the second most dangerous metropolitan area for pedestrians - and not just by a little bit!!


Data from the "Dangerous by Design" study by Smart Growth America tabulates Pedestrian Deaths broken down by states and metro areas. The rankings are measured on a scale known as the 'Pedestrian Danger Index' (PDI). The PDI is measured by comparing the latest five years of data on pedestrian fatalities with the share of local commuters who walk to work. "Unlike the total number of pedestrian deaths, the PDI gives you an idea of how likely you are to get run over while walking in a given area".



"While Florida tops the PDI ranking and stands alone with an index score three times the national average, a map of the top 10 states is particularly revealing: they are almost completely clustered on the East coast (Arizona being the only exception):"
 

So there you have it folks... for all of your loved ones (especially our kids), slow down and be aware of pedestrians!!

When traveling in areas where it's common for kids to play, take extra care - you are certainly the more experienced and driving in a potentially deadly weapon!

If you visit or live in The Eagles community - it's 18 mp/h on the streets and roads for a reason. Follow the roadside instructions, watch for kids and please, stop at stop signs.

View all of the statistics and analyses here

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