Each month, about nine people are killed by cars while they are crossing the road in Florida, making it the worst state in the nation for pedestrian fatalities. Just this past Wednesday, Nov. 16, one of these fatalities occurred when a pregnant woman was hit and killed leaving doctors scrambling to try and save her unborn child.
Tampa Bay News 9 reports the driver of the car did not see the pedestrians, which consisted of two women pushing two strollers with toddlers. The report does note the mothers were pushing the children in a poorly lit area with no sidewalk on part of the road.
This is just one of many cases exemplifying why the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 launched a campaign -- See the Blindspots -- as a pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness program.
While most people are on board with the program, it's a recent campaign video that has some in the community up in arms. The videos shows graphic footage of pedestrians getting slammed by cars and laying in the middle of the street.
According to the See the Blindspot website, it is "opportunity for us to open our eyes to what we've been missing so we can begin looking out for each other." In 2009, 466 pedestrian deaths took place in Florida; the next highest state was Texas with more than 100 less at 344. But it seems pedestrians in the Tampa Bay area have it the worst. According to the website, every seven hours a pedestrian is injured and seven are killed each month in the Tampa Bay metro area. The goal of the program is to reduce pedestrian fatalities in the state by 20 percent by 2015.
Watch the campaign ad here (Warning: the images are graphic and as the video notes, may be unsuitable for young children):
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/ZQpLn5HtUh0?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
Tampa Bay's News 10 reports dissension of over the video:
The traffic safety video shows real examples of pedestrians getting hit by vehicles. Sen. Mike Fasano calls the video clips horrific and he thinks they should be removed from the website.
Sen. Fasano thinks the images are over the top.
"They were truly graphic and something that shouldn't be on a state website. I have great concerns as well with children having access to that website and going and watching those horrific and very sad videos."
But some believe that the shock factor helps get the urgent message of the campaign across. News 10 reports Rep. Irv Slosberg as saying "We need something graphic on the air":
Rep. Slosberg has worked tirelessly on road safety issues during his time in the Legislature. His focus comes from personal tragedy: his teenage daughter Dori was killed in a car crash.
Slosberg says a powerful message is needed to make an impact.
"We're going backwards instead of forwards. A lot of it has to do with driver distraction: cell phones, texting and driving."
But Sen. Fasano says families of these victims should not have to relive their personal tragedies through this video.
"I would encourage the department to relook at their policy and maybe, just maybe, although they're doing a good cause and trying to get information and educate the public to do away with those graphic videos. It's not necessary."
In addition to public messages about the campaign and pedestrian and cyclist statistics, the website also provides safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians and a forum for family and friends to share their story of a pedestrian or cyclist lost in a car crash.