FORT MYERS, Fla. — At least three pedestrians have been struck by cars in Lee County the past week, and Fox Four is looking into why the numbers of such crashes are going up.
Authorities say pedestrian accidents, like the one that happened Tuesday night on Palm Beach Blvd., are on the rise. And they’re asking drivers and walkers alike to be careful, and pay close attention.
“You just got to be careful where ever you go,” said Miguel, who didn’t give his last name, as he walked down Palm Beach Blvd. on Friday. “Look both ways because you don’t know where these (drivers) are or if they’re in a hurry.”
The Florida Highway Patrol said a 47-year-old man was struck by a car while crossing the street Thursday night near Palm Beach and Fairfax Road, in the Tice area of Fort Myers.
The car fled the scene, while the pedestrian was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“The Florida Highway Patrol has most certainly seen an increase with pedestrian activity, and that’s because it is our season. We have so many more people here,” said State Trooper Ken Watson.
This is at least the third time a pedestrian has been struck in Lee County in the past six days.
And even though there are more people in the area, the number of accidents outpaces that growth.
“Our trend is definitely up,” said Don Scott, executive director of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “If you look at all our crashes — motor vehicles, bicylces and pedestrians — fatalities and serious injuries, our trends have been up over the past 5 years.”
According to FHP numbers, which are updated through March 3, five pedestrians were killed in the first two months of this year. That’s on pace for 29 pedestrian deaths — which would be the most in the past five years.
Collier County is on pace for 12 pedestrian deaths, which also would be a five-year high.
“As all these devices we have enhanced, everyone wants to multitask,” Watson said. “Everyone is texting, everyone is on their phone, everyone is doing everything but paying attention when they’re behind the wheel.”
Scott of the Lee County MPO said walkers need to pay attention as well.
“Please cross safely at a crossing,” he said. “One of the things we look at is where these are happening. There are too many that are very close to intersections where you could be crossing at a safe crosswalk.”
Scott said that 50 percent of the accidents involving pedestrians happened in dark, unlit areas. So he cautioned anyone who is walking to wear bright clothing and carry a light.