Study Reveals Florida is the Least Safe State for Pedestrians

Pedestrians may want to think twice before taking a stroll in South Florida. According to NBC Miami, a study by Transportation for America showed that Florida is the least safe state in the country for pedestrians and bikers. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked 3rd overall, with the Orlando-Kissimmee area and the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg area beating out South Florida. Jacksonville was ranked 4th.

The study and the report by NBC note that much of the problem may be due to infrastructure. Florida is constantly growing and the truth is that our cities may not have been prepared for such growth. State highways throughout the country have widened, and state governments have put sidewalks and bike lanes on the back-burner to accommodate traffic.


However, the study also notes budgetary spending might be an issue. According to the study, no state uses more than five percent of federal transportation funds on pedestrian-friendly mechanisms such as crosswalks, sidewalks and speed humps.

Our state must act quickly because the numbers are high and, without attention, will continue to rise. In Florida, there are 3.02 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people while the U.S. average is 1.26 people, according to Transportation for America. Over 16 percent of traffic deaths in Florida involved pedestrians, yet only 1.5 percent of state funds are used for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

With straining state budgets throughout the country, there are no guarantees that our legislature will be able to implement more safety measures without more resources. It is up to us as drivers to promote safety in all of our cities.

South Florida Cycling Event Honors Teen Biker Killed by Driver

About a month ago, 17-year-old Rodolfo Rojo of Bay Harbor Islands was killed in an auto accident around 2:30 a.m. when he and his friends were riding their bikes on Biscayne Boulevard near 113th Street in Miami and Rojo was struck by a vehicle.

To honor Rojo, Critical Mass, an event in which cyclists gather in a large group to promote bicycle safety and awareness, dedicated their Friday bike ride in his memory. According to an article in the Miami Herald, the bike ride will proceed along the same route where Rojo was killed and parents and friends will leave a white painted bike with a plaque.


This is another unfortunate story pointing out a major problem with cycling fatalities in South Florida. According to the article, Florida has the highest number of fatalities in the U.S. Bicycles are classified as vehicles and cyclists have rights. Though they are required to have front and back lights when riding at night and cyclists and drivers must observe safety laws, a lack of bike lanes on Miami’s busy streets and growing numbers of bikers leaves many people concerned.

It is obvious that more action will need to be taken to ensure cyclist safety, focusing on both the driver and the cyclist’s observance of the law.

Tiger Woods Injured in Florida Auto Accident

On the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday for shoppers, both sports and news networks throughout Florida and the U.S. that Tiger Woods was involved in an auto accident. According to original reports, including report by WSVN Fox News in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, Tiger Woods was seriously injured in an auto accident and taken to Health Central Hospital.

The crash occurred near Woods’ Windermere home when he pulled out of his driveway and hit a fire hydrant and tree with his Cadillac SUV, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Florida Highway Patrol stated that the accident was not alcohol-related, although charges are pending.



Thankfully, further updates reported that the airbags in Woods’ vehicle did not deploy because the vehicle was traveling at less than 33 miles per hour. Furthermore, Woods was released from the hospital and it is likely that he only suffered facial lacerations. Spokespersons for Woods said that he was okay and in good condition.

Traditionally, we will see a noticeable increase in auto accidents during the holidays. Thanksgiving had the highest numbers of fatalities in Florida with 52 fatalities, almost half of which involved alcohol. This is likely due to the fact that Thanksgiving involves a longer weekend than New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July and as it is a more family-oriented holiday, we see more travelers on the road. South Florida is particularly susceptible to increased accidents and traffic due to our warm weather throughout the winter.

While the story continues to develop, we wish Tiger Woods a speedy recovery and we urge that everyone drive safely and responsibly during the holidays.

Crib Recall due to Product Defect a Sign of the End of Drop-Side Cribs

This week, news has spread about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of over 2 million cribs manufactured by Canada-based Stork Craft Manufacturing because of a product defect. According to a report by Yahoo News, this is the largest recall of cribs in U.S. history.

Approximately 1.2 million of the cribs being recalled are in the U.S. and about 1 million cribs in Canada. So far, four infants have suffocated as a result of the defective cribs. South Florida parents should be concerned, as the cribs have been sold in major retail stores such as Sears and Walmart, and have been sold online through Costco and Target. The cribs affected by the product defects have been made and distributed between January 1993 and October 2009.

The defect occurs with the assembly of the product and the hardware itself, which can break or deform. Because parents often disassemble cribs and later reuse them for their other children, problems with hardware affects the reassembly and causes drop-sides to detach. The resulting space between the drop-side and the mattress can suffocate a child.



This recall, however, is just the tip of the iceberg for crib manufacturing. Over 5 million drop-side cribs have been recalled over the past two years, according to the Yahoo News report. CBS News also noted the problems with drop-side cribs, and that even the crib industry says that despite the convenience of the up-and-down side of the crib, the design of drop-side cribs do not meet safety standards.

Companies, states and groups are all taking action. Legislation in Suffolk County, N.Y. was passed banning cribs with sides that move up and down. Toys’R Us is no longer selling drop-side cribs, according to the CBS News report. AMS International, a group which sets voluntary industry safety standards for products, approved a standard requiring four non-movable sides for cribs.

We are thankful that the government, companies and groups are being proactive in solving this problem. However, consumers who have purchased these cribs must also take action. We urge anyone who believes that they have purchased one of these cribs to log on to Stock Craft’s website or contact Stock Craft at 877-274-0277 for more information and for a safety repair kit.

Problems with Defective Chinese Drywall Go Beyond the Surface

South Florida homeowners who have been victims of defective Chinese drywall which circulated throughout the country during the housing boom may have more worries ahead. According to the Sun Sentinel, the federal government has stated that there is a “strong association” between the drywall and pipe and wire corrosion.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also stated that their continued investigation has found a possible link between sulfide gases emitted from the drywall and reported health problems by consumers. The CPSC, along with the EPA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, continue studying the effects of the drywall and said that it can now move ahead with further studies to find solutions to the problem and possible assistance from the federal government.

So far the CPSC has received over 2,000 complaints from homeowners in 32 states, with heavy concentration in Florida, and has spent over $3 million in studying the problem. Complaints by homeowners include not only the rotten-egg smell from the sulfur, but also sickness, corrosion of pipes, blackening of jewelry and damage to air conditioners.

WPBF Newschannel 5 in West Palm Beach also reported on this story, noting that Florida is one of the top five states with reported complaints about the drywall. If you believe that you have been affected by Chinese drywall, please call our office to discuss your potential claim for damages.

Auto Accidents Involving Trains a Growing Concern in South Florida

Several publications in South Florida have reported on an auto accident last week in Fort Lauderdale in which a car was stuck on the tracks and hit by a Tri-Rail commuter train. Two women were killed in the accident while another passenger was seriously injured.

However, as a recent article in the Sun Sentinel showed, this is not the first auto accident with a train. Unfortunately, as the article noted, South Florida has a very high incidence of train accidents. For example, along with the recent accident in Fort Lauderdale, a similar accident occurred recently in Pompano Beach in which a train struck a car, killing one woman and injuring another.

The article listed five other accidents lthis past year alone, involving both Amtrak and Tri-Rail trains. The accidents were spread throughout the South Florida area, in cities such as Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Boynton Beach. Most of the incidents involved a collision with a car which was stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing and involved serious injury or death.

It is difficult to pinpoint the cause for this high rate of accidents. Many organizations, such as Operation Lifesaver, were established to educate people on the issues and to prevent these accidents. As stated by Operation Lifesaver, statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration show that there were 2,391 highway-rail crossing collisions last year. Florida ranked 9th among the Top 15 states with 75 collisions, while the highest ranked state, Texas, had 228 collisions.

Despite efforts to educate, the problem persists in South Florida. In the wake of increased cell phone usage while driving, growing impatience of drivers during rush-hour traffic and increased dependence on public transit during tough economic times, changes must be made by drivers, regulating bodies, train companies and the cities which rely on must take action to ensure the safety of drivers, pedestrians and passengers.

It is important that drivers take it upon themselves to be proactive and use proper safety procedures to ensure the safety of themselves and their passengers. Following are seven steps recommended by Operation Lifesaver which should be used by all drivers of motor vehicles when approaching and crossing train track intersections:

1. Approach crossing with care. Slow down when you see an Advanced Warning Sign.

2. Prepare to stop. Turn off fans and radio, roll down windows.
Look and listen for a train.

3. Stop at least 15 feet from nearest rail, but not more than 50 feet, if you see a train.

4. If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. If your vehicle has a trailer, remember the additional length.

5. Double check, back left and right. Before you move look in both directions.

6. Cross tracks with care. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, use a gear that will not require shifting until you reach the opposite side.

7. Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come

Cyclists in South Florida Taking a Stand, Promoting Safety

We have posted about bicycle accidents in the past, noting our concern as the statistics show that eight cyclists were killed in Palm Beach County alone last year, and a total of 118 bicyclists were killed last year in Florida.


In light of the dangers cyclists face every day, bike groups are taking a stand to ensure the safety of their groups and of all cyclists in the South Florida area. Along with ensuring that their groups follow traffic laws and erecting safety signs, these groups are working with local authorities to ensure that uniform bike laws are enforced and that motorists follow theses traffic laws while keeping the safety of cyclists in mind.

Part of this movement is a campaign called “Ride Right, Drive Right”, an idea by Broward resident and founder of cycling group zMotion Pat Patregnani. According to the Sun Sentinel, Patregnani came up with the campaign after an incident in August in which a cyclist and motorists were involved in an altercation. The hope is that the campaign will educate both cyclists and motorists, encourage patience and sharing of the roads and prevent bicycle and auto accidents. Groups such as zMotion, the South Florida Bike Coalition and the Boca Raton Bicycle Club have all done their part, requiring their members to ride in small groups and in single file.

The campaign also includes signs designed to notify motorists of laws such as giving a cyclist three feet of clearance when passing them. The signs will be posted along State Road AIA in Palm Beach County and the Department of Transportation will review the signs. Hopefully, this campaign, along with efforts by cyclists, motorists and the police will encourage both groups to share the road and work together to prevent accidents and injuries.

School Bus Drivers in Miami-Dade: No Texting While Driving

The Sun Sentinel reported that the Miami-Dade school board passed a ban on Tuesday which disallows bus drivers from using their cell phones. The ban also includes other district employees who use district-owned vehicles. However, the ban does not include school police officers.

This is just another case of a South Florida city cracking down cell phone usage while driving, as we have already seen a similar ban on texting in Parkland, Florida. The report noted that 19 states have banned texting while driving and six states require every driver to use hand-held devices if they are making a phone call. According to the Sentinel, there are some experts who think distracted driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While Florida does not have any official laws on the books yet, Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota has been very active in pushing for legislation on this issue.


School buses safety is a major concern for parents. According to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, over 22 million kids around the country ride the bus. A 2002 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study showed that school buses were involved in over 26,000 crashes, which resulted in almost 1,000 incapacitating injuries. Earlier in October school buses caught everyone’s attention in South Florida when a man in Tequesta, Florida was struck and killed by a school bus.

In our practice we encounter the issue of cell phone use while driving on a daily basis. It is a fact that distracted driving causes accidents and accidents can cause serious personal injuries to those who are unfortunately involved in these accidents. Please contact our offices if you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident so we can protect your rights.

Will Red Light Cameras in South Florida Last?

We have followed the red light camera issue in South Florida for some time now. From our posts about the red light cameras in West Palm Beach to the cameras in Pembroke Pines, the use of red light cameras by cities to prevent auto accidents has become a hot topic.

This week, the Sun Sentinel reported that the city of Pembroke Pines is now under fire in a class action lawsuit for the use of the red light cameras. According to the story, the city has delayed the installation of five more cameras.

Drivers say that the cameras are a violation of equal protection and due process and that under state law, local governments cannot regulate stop lights. They point out that the cameras only punish the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, and that the only form of appeal is through a magistrate who works for the city. Drivers also feel that in spite of the city’s stance that the cameras are being used for driver safety and to prevent auto accidents, the primary goal is to generate revenue during the current financial crisis. The cameras have already sent out over 1,500 citations which have generated about $90,000.

We noted in our post about the Obama administration that the President and his cabinet are taking a strong interest in vehicular safety and passing laws to outlaw distracted driving. Several other cities, such as Aventura and West Palm Beach, have also installed red light cameras, so the question now is whether the cameras will last and what kind of precedent will decisions in these cases set for South Florida, the rest of the state, and even in other states facing the same questions. In any case, it is likely that whether or not the cameras survive in Pembroke Pines, this will not be the last that we hear about red light cameras.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson Addresses Current Defective Chinese Drywall Problem

We recently wrote about Maclaren’s recall of Chinese-made strollers and how South Florida consumers have been exposed to and affected by defective products made in China. We also noted how our government representatives are taking action on this important matter.

WPTV Channel 5 News in West Palm Beach recently reported that Senator Bill Nelson was in West Palm Beach last Thursday speaking with local leaders on stimulating Florida’s economy. According to the report, which also includes a video link provided by WPTV, Senator Nelson addressed several issues, from unemployment and the current financial crisis to health care.



However, Senator Nelson also had strong words over the current problem facing some homeowner’s about defective Chinese drywall which is believed to contain deposits of toxic sulphuric gas. Senator Nelson is pressing for a class action suit against the distributors of the product, stating the importance of holding those parties accountable for the problems which homeowners with the defective drywall face. Senator Nelson said that it is ultimately their responsibility to make the homeowners whole. He has also stated that he spoke with President Obama and his staff, and asked that the President address this issue on his current visit to China.

According to one article, over 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported into the United States, which accounts to about 100,000 homes. Though the Florida Department of Health has received about 150 complaints, experts say that about 35,000 homes may have used the drywall.

f you or someone you know has been affected by Chinese Drywall n their home please contact our offices as soon as possible to discuss your potential claim.