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New report: Pedestrian traffic fatalities at 30-year high nationwide

We continue to report about deadly hit-and-runs that bring tragedy to communities of Southwest Florida. And, it turns out, the number of people who have been killed while walking on the street is at a 30-year high nationwide.

We look at whether there is a solution.

A memorial in the Suncoast Estates community of North Fort Myers is one among too many that exist in the region. It marks the spot where 14-year-old Allana Staiano killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking home with her best friend.

“I mean, she was scared of being on the roads because of the way people drive,” said Christine Gray, Allana’s mother. “She was scared of a lot of things. She was scared of the dark.”

Gray’s daughter was killed in January. She is a recent mother to feel the deep pain of the potential dangers on streets in Southwest Florida communities, especially in the dark.

Nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association says this deadly trend is getting worse. Three out of four pedestrians killed die in the dark.

“It’s always been an issue,” Gray said. “It’s always been a known issue.”

The report says sidewalks and street lights would save lives.

But Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello told us that’s easier said than done.

“Each street light costs somewhere between [$500 to $600] dollars,” Coviello said. “So it wouldn’t be feasible to put millions and millions of dollars into street lights all at one time.”

And Coviello said he wishes he could light every street. When 8-year-old, Layla Aiken was killed in a hit-and-run while waiting for her school bus in the death in the dark, it was on his watch. And he said the city responded.

“We went from $100,000 to $300,000 [per year]” Coviello said. “That takes from about 200 street lights, which is usually what we’ve done in the past. We tear up to about 600.”

There were nearly $7,000 pedestrian deaths across the nation last year. The GHSA report cites distracted driving, drinking and more and more people driving SUVs as other factors for the spike in deaths.

Gray’s mission is to ensure her daughter didn’t die in vain.

“I just wish it didn’t have to come to this for something to be done,” Gray said.

MORE: GHSA – Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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