The number of Florida traffic fatalities last year helped make the Southeast the only area to report an increase in road deaths. Reduction in traffic deaths resulting from COVID-19 aside, the new statistics show Florida still has a lot of work to do when it comes to keeping motorists safe on the road.
Jacksonville News Channel 4 was among the Florida media outlets to report an increase in Florida traffic fatalities was a leading driver in making the Southeast United States the only region to see an overall increase in traffic fatalities last year.
The preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 36,120 people died on U.S. roads last year. That would be a 1.2 percent decline compared to the 36,560 fatalities in 2018. The reduction comes after years of increase amid the growth and economic expansion following the Great Recession. However, in the Southeast Region, which includes South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida, road deaths are expected to be up about 2 percent. Final figures will be available later this year.
It remains to be seen what impact COVID-19 and the “Safer-at-Home” order has on this year’s statistics, although it’s a given there will be a significant reduction during the second-quarter, when Southwest Florida typically experiences the height of tourism season.
Nationwide, the NHTSA predicts a reduction in all categories, including deaths of motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders.
“And we know that without the unyielding efforts from our determined and passionate safety partners at the state and local levels, we could never achieve the projected drop in traffic-related fatalities that have been announced today,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens.
High Risk of Traffic Collisions in Southwest Florida
But our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral know a significant reduction is less certain in Southwest Florida. Florida routinely joins Texas and California as one of the three deadliest states for all types of collisions.
Our growth is certainly a factor but the national data shows population density and increasing accident risks do not necessarily correlate in some of the nation’s most populated areas. Region 1, which includes Massachusetts and all of New England, reported an 8 percent reduction in traffic deaths, while Region 2, which includes New York and New Jersey, saw the number of traffic fatalities decline by 6 percent last year.
Too often, roads in Southwest Florida have been built for traffic, without regard for pedestrians, cyclists or other road users. Consequently, a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of your accident (best done as soon as possible after the collision) can sometimes reveal overlooked causes and/or additional liable parties.
Summer Road Safety
The best that can be said about the great quieting that has occurred as a result of the pandemic fears, is that it gives each of us a chance to stop and catch our breath after a decade of rapid growth and development. Understanding the common risks faced by each type of road user can go a long way toward helping you prevent an accident.
Sometimes it comes down to a simple matter of patience, something many are running short of as the pandemic enters its 10th week. Let the driver go in front of you. Let the cyclist or pedestrian cross the road. Obey the rules in parking lots, at the beach, and in other high-traffic areas. Resolve to bring a degree of patience and grace to the occasion, and you may well prevent a tragedy.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.