Miami car accidents, traffic accidents throughout South Florida, expected to increase as economy improves

The dangers of a serious or fatal South Florida car accident are increasing as the economy emerges from the Great Recession, according to a study on traffic congestion released this month.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked the 13th most-congested area in the nation, according to the INRIX 2009 National Traffic Scorecard. The study found that driving increased in the last three months of 2009 for the first time since the peak levels seen at the start of the recession in 2007.

The influx of traffic during the winter tourism season comes as no surprise to South Floridians. But the close link between the state of the economy and the congestion on our roads could mean an increase in South Florida car accidents after several years of decline.

“As the job situation goes, so goes congestion,” Rick Schuman, the study’s author, told the USAToday. “If we have a recovery and we start seeing employment starting to grow, congestion will grow along with it.”

Nationwide, traffic fatalities have fallen from 41,259 in 2007 to 37,261, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will soon release accident statistics for last year.

In Florida, fatal traffic accidents declined from 3,213 in 2007 to 2,978 in 2008. The counties with the highest number of fatal accidents were Miami-Dade (269), Broward (227), Palm Beach (198), Hillsborough (182), Orange (170), Polk (133), Duval (120), Pinellas (114), Volusia (109) and Pasco (88).

The most congested areas of the country were Los Angeles, followed by New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Dallas and Houston. Miami roads were just 18 percent as congested as those in L.A.

The study found that drivers in Miami spend an average of 13 percent longer on commutes during peak-traffic hours than the same trip made during off-hours.