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Both drivers and pedestrians say the other ones are unsafe

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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 6:21 pm | Updated: 9:21 pm, Tue Dec 25, 2012.

SARASOTA - Pedestrian safety is a problem all across the Suncoast. Pedestrians blame drivers, and drivers say most often the pedestrian is at fault.

ABC 7 cameras caught pedestrians Tuesday zipping across major roadways, oblivious to fast cars that had to swerve to miss them, never seeming to notice how close they came to being hit.

"He does that (crossing in the middle of the block) all the time…this is unusual, crossing at the corner. I tell him it's not safe,” says Jana Keane of her father’s street-crossing habits.

Her father Jerry disagrees. “It is the safest way. Statistics show more people die at crosswalks than they do jaywalking. Jaywalking is eminently safer.”

But that's not the way Wayne Scamm sees it. He says he's had a several close calls as he rides his bike along U.S. 301 -- especially between 10th Street and Fruitville Road, and he's learned his lesson. "I always go to the crosswalk because they are a lot more safer. A lot of people try to run across there, and it's not safe. A lot of people are not watching for you. They watch for you when you're in the crosswalk."

Jennifer Schroeder works at the Shell station at the corner of Fruitville Road and U.S. 301, and she says she sees near misses almost every day as pedestrians and bicycle riders dart across the busy road. She says it's frightening. "I do see a lot of people walking back and forth crossing the street, getting hit by cars, or myself leaving work almost hit somebody on a bicycle."

She says she lost a friend in an accident like this. "It was in the Bradenton-Manatee area and it was late at night going to the store, walking back across the street and got hit by a big truck. And he passed away unfortunately."

ABC 7 cameras also found a lot of pedestrians and bikers darting in front of cars, or calmly stepping out in front of them, and walking straight into traffic on U.S. 41 near Myrtle Street in Sarasota, and on 14th and 15th Streets in Manatee County.

Drivers report they often have to take drastic means to avoid hitting someone. Driver Dave Leary says there is a solution. "They should have some kind of crosswalk and enforce it. I live over on Lockwood Ridge. They have signs and flashing lights and you walk when that comes on. You don't have that over here."

A recent study by FDOT shows there would not be fewer pedestrian accidents if they added more crosswalks.

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