Florida Fatal Crashes Fall for Sixth Straight Year; Drivers Still Cautioned
Gregg Hollander | January 14, 2012 | Personal Injury
For the sixth straight year, fatal car accidents in South Florida and across the state have plummeted.
In a new report announced by the Florida Highway Patrol this month, statistics show that last year, law enforcement and health officials reported the lowest number of crash fatalities since 1978.
This is quite a feat, given that the state’s population has doubled in those 33 years.
Florida motorists, educators and law enforcement are to be commended for this accomplishment in making our roads safer to travel.
But the work isn’t over.
That same report indicates that more than 2,370 people lost their lives on Florida’s roadways, bringing the total over the last two years to nearly 5,000.
Our Boca Raton car accident attorneys believe that is simply far too many.
Tragically, many of the victims are young. In fact, the highway patrol reports that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 4 and 34.
These are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and dear friends – gone long before they even begin to approach old age.
Perhaps most frustrating is that often, these fatal accidents could have been prevented.
Col. David Brierton, director of the state’s highway patrol, said that while law enforcement remains committed to helping reduce the number of deadly crashes, the public has a responsibility too. And that involves buckling up, driving sober and never taking your eyes off the road.
Under Florida Statute 316.193, drunk driving is defined as getting behind the wheel when your blood alcohol level is higher than 0.08. The first violation alone carries a minimum fine of between $500 and $1,000 (depending on how drunk you are) and a possible jail sentence of six to nine months. All that is assuming you haven’t seriously injured someone. The punishments get stiffer from there.
Seat belt use, another primary factor in the survival of a crash victim, has been increasing in recent years, with the National Safety Council reporting that as of two years ago, 88 percent of drivers regularly buckle up. That’s an increase of almost 20 percent in 10 years. The council also indicates that seat belts have saved an estimated 75,000 lives just between 2004 and 2008.
But again, it’s not enough, as the council reported that 42 percent of passengers killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2007 weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Another factor in many fatal crashes is distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, not paying attention while you’re driving is just as dangerous as if you were drunk.
The top distraction, and perhaps one that is garnering the most media attention recently, is texting. Considering that texting increases your risk of a crash by 23 times, this is valid.
But other forms of distraction can prove equally deadly. These include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (this includes maps), using a navigation system, watching a video or adjusting your radio, CD player or MP3 player.
Teens are considered to be the most vulnerable to these types of distractions. In fact, 16 percent of all teens who died in car accidents in 2009 were believed to have been distracted.
The truth is, you can’t always avoid a car accident in Boca Raton or anywhere. But you can reduce your risks by vowing to be a safer driver in 2012.