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An organization called Smart Growth America published a study in early March regarding the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the United States for pedestrians.

The study covered 2010 to 2019, and with their results they ranked the top-20.

It’s not a top-20 list you want to be on, but a very eye-opening conclusion from the study is that nine of the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the entire country are right here in Florida, easily making the Sunshine State the most dangerous.

It is true that good year-round weather affects studies like this — there are more pedestrians out and about in warm weather states than in cold weather states — but the results are still troubling.

Far too many pedestrians die in Florida.

According to their list, the worst place to be a pedestrian is the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area. The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area ranked fourth, and the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach area was fifth.

The Lakeland-Winter Haven metropolitan area wasn’t far behind, coming in at ninth in the country — right behind the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Pete area, which had 806 more pedestrian deaths.

The study says that 162 pedestrians were killed here during the nine years compiled.

The rankings are based on a “Pedestrian Danger Index” which includes factors such as deaths and the number of pedestrians in an area.

So, while more pedestrians were killed in the Tampa Bay area, it is considered more dangerous for pedestrians in Lakeland-Winter Haven, because the ratio of deaths to the average number of walkers is higher here.

Speeding and distracted driving can be a factor for many pedestrian deaths, but in a lot of the investigations by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the pedestrians were struck while wearing dark clothing in dark areas, and walking on the roadway. Many of these deaths were avoidable.

Whether you’re walking or driving, as long as you’re on the road, be smart and be safe.

Grady Judd is the Sheriff of Polk County. Learn more about Judd and the Polk County Sheriff's Office at polksheriff.org.