ORLANDO, Fla. - On October 7, 2013 Laura Ann Miller decided to walk home from work. The mother of three had made the trip before, she knew the route, but what she didn’t know was that where she was walking was in between two of the deadliest stretches of road in the Orlando area.
Just two and a half miles from her work, Laura Ann was crossing the intersection of Landstreet and Orange Avenue when she was struck by a car. Laura Ann died hours later at the hospital.
The driver that hit and killed Laura Ann never stopped and has never been caught. The Florida Highway Patrol says it has followed several leads, but has yet to identify a car or a driver.
"That’s the sad part and they’re going to have to live with that the rest of their life" said Teresa McRae, a friend and coworker of the victim. "You got to have some sort of conscience to leave a poor girl just lying there to die."
MetroPlan Orlando has been studying pedestrian safety in for years, and according to its data, the following are the five deadliest roads for pedestrians and have accounted for almost a dozen death:
- Edgewater Drive (SR 424) from Lee Road to SR 423
19 crashes, 1 fatality
- SR 436 (Semoran Blvd.) from Old Cheney Hwy. to SR 50
15 crashes (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009 & 2010), 4 fatalities
- SR 527 (Orange Ave.) from Gore Street to Kaley Street
15 crashes, 0 fatalities
- US 17/92 from Park Drive to 1st Street (Sanford)
13 crashes, 0 fatalities
- Oak Ridge Road from US 441 to Orange Ave.
12 crashes, 2 fatalities
"Having very wide fast roads without lighting is a prime recipe for pedestrian fatalities," said Mighk Wilson of MetroPlan Orlando. "Driver yielding to pedestrians even in marked cross walks has been deplorable."
Wilson’s work into pedestrian fatalities has helped the organization launch its "Best Foot Forward" campaign and determine what areas need the most improvement. The group says the major issues continue to be both driver and pedestrian attitudes, lighting, as well as road design.
Recommendations for improving pedestrian safety include medians in busy roads that can be used as "safe zones," improved lighting at locations commonly used by pedestrians and new signs at key intersections.
"I cross about three or four times a day," said Orlando resident Julie Stout. "People around here don’t pay attention and they get hit real quick."
Stout rides the Lynx Bus, often catching the bus at a stop off Orange Blossom Trail. She pointed out that at her location there are two bus stops on either side of the road and frequently riders will run across the six lanes of traffic to get from one bus to the other.
While the City of Orlando and Orange County have taken steps to address problems along OBT and other roads, the main problem according to MetroPlan is driver attitudes, which have been slow to change, leaving the Orlando area mired as the deadliest place for pedestrians in the US.