In 2020, there were arguably fewer vehicles on the road due to pandemic restrictions which limited the movement of large swathes of the population, as compared to years prior. An individual could make an educated guess that road fatalities would have gone down and not up during this time period, but they would be wrong.
Road fatalities in Florida and across the nation have been on the rise. According to a recent New York Times article, authorities in several states are attributing this increase to an increase in drivers’ anxiety levels, increased drinking, and the “fraying of social norms”. In Florida alone, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report noted a 12% projected increase in traffic fatalities in 2021, as compared to the prior year. This increase in deaths represents the highest number reported since 1975 when the Transportation Department began collecting fatal crash data.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called this increase in road fatalities a “national crisis” and has released a national strategy in an effort to reverse this trend. The new strategy includes federal guidance and billions of dollars in grants as part of the new infrastructure law introduced by President Joe Biden. Under the new law, state and local governments will be encouraged to lower speed limits and improve road designs, create dedicated bicycle and bus lanes, as well as install better lighting and improve crosswalks. The use of speed cameras in place of police traffic stops is also encouraged as part of the plan.
Although the new strategy seems to make roads safer for pedestrians and motorists, it does not address the most prevalent cause of fatal accidents – distracted, intoxicated, and anxious drivers. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has reported that in Florida the number of hit-and-run accidents in 2021 increased by 17% when compared to 2020.
Stay Safe On The Road
In 2020 alone, there were 48,537 crashes, 2,756 serious bodily injuries, and 308 fatalities due to distracted driving in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “Distracted driving”, as defined by the Florida Department of Transportation is anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the operating of a motor vehicle.
The types of distracted driving listed on the FDOT website are manual, visual, and cognitive. When a driver is using a cell phone while driving, they are engaging in all three forms of distracted driving. For information on how to prevent distracted driving, read our “2022 Safe Driving Resolution: Eyes Up, Phones Down”.
As reported by ABC Action News, “impaired driving has caused 15,349 crashes in Florida, killing 799 people”. Nationwide, one person dies in an alcohol-related crash every 52 minutes. These deaths could have been completely preventable if these drivers had not taken drugs or imbibed alcohol prior to operating a motor vehicle.
Fifty-four percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes can be linked to “road rage”, as reported by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Geico Insurance has put together a list of reasons why drivers may experience road rage or aggressive driving. They are as follows:
- Traffic delays
- Running behind schedule
- Anonymity or the feeling that a driver most likely will not see another driver again
- General disregard for other drivers and the law
- Habitual or learned behavior
When we add the stresses of a worldwide pandemic over the course of two or more years, these factors increase exponentially. Aggressive driving can be prevented if an individual follows the following precautions.
- Factor in more time to commute to make up for potential traffic delays
- Be respectful of other drivers by using positive hand gestures
- Keep a safe distance between vehicles
- Do not use the car’s horn, as it increases stress levels for all drivers on the road
- Do not confront another driver, as doing so may lead to a more dangerous situation
To prevent an altercation with an aggressive driver, an individual may want to enroll in a defensive driving course. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has a complete list of approved driving schools on its website.
Call A Car Accident Attorney
Even when a driver does everything in their power to avoid an accident, they may still find themselves the victim of a crash. This is when a driver needs an experienced car accident attorney on their side. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious or fatal injury in a car accident, we can help you. Panter, Panter, and Sampedro has obtained verdicts and settlements in excess of $100 million for our clients. Give us a call at 305-662-6178 for a free case review with a dedicated attorney.