Florida no longer worst state for pedestrians

Tampa, Florida -- No longer the worst in the nation. That's something, but officials say we still have a long way to go.

Although it may seem like every day there's another deadly accident involving a pedestrian in the bay area, there's new information suggesting the situation is improving thanks to new bike-lanes, better lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks and innovation.

But for people like Ross Fabian, it's all just numbers.

THE WORST: List of most-dangerous Bay area intersections

Fabian is still haunted by the image of his 6-year-old neighbor, Yves Zamora who was struck and critically injured Wednesday night as the little boy was riding his scooter in on North 20th Street Tampa. Officials announced this morning Zamora had died.

"When you're around playgrounds I think you should have speed bumps in the area at all times. Because you see you've got cars ride through here but there are no speed bumps," Fabian said.

It happens far too often.

Four years in a row, Florida had been ranked the worst in the nation when it comes to the rate of pedestrian fatalities, but the newest numbers offer hope.

WATCH: Why are roads so threatening to pedestrians?

"We've moved down to No. 5, so we're making progress little by little," said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

Researchers determined that the worst states by looking at the number of fatalities per 100,000 in population. The most dangerous state is Delaware with a rate of 2.94, followed by New Mexico (2.92), South Carolina (2.6), and Louisiana (2.56). Florida's rate was 2.46.

Carson says the improved numbers, compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, have been the result of a concerted effort embarked upon more than two years ago when the state's transportation director said enough is enough.

Since then, the department has been vigorously Installing warning signs, bike lanes, foot bridges, and crossing signals in addition to education programs all over the state. Officials meet to brainstorm every three months to look at their own numbers and discuss more ideas.

Although the rate is the lowest in nearly 20 years in Florida, the average number of fatalities, close to 500 per year, is still far too high says FDOT.

"Of course, our goal is to have no fatalities for bicyclists and pedestrians, but it's definitely a work in progress," Carson said.

CALL TO ACTION: Bay officials call for safer roads

Even with a crosswalk it can be dangerous.

Along Fowler Avenue in Tampa, Claude Levesque was looking out for drivers as he tried to cross nearly 10 lanes of pavement. Especially knowing many drivers are not looking out for him.

"Yeah, I've been barely missed a couple of times, but I've been fortunate I haven't been hit. It's been close," Levesque said, "Which is why, like I said, I make eye contact and make sure they're stopped."

For FDOT, the new statistics are encouraging, but officials concede they have a long way to go.

They know that for the victims, statistics offer little or no comfort.

"Numbers don't do it. Results do it," said Fabian looking at the scene of Wednesday's deadly accident. "And that's not a result."


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