As one of the largest and most populous states in the nation, Florida is no stranger to high rates of motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, the state has become one of the nation’s leaders in a few categories where being number one isn’t ideal. That includes fatal wrecks.
Fatal Auto Accidents in the U.S.
Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that for the third straight year, more than 40,000 people were killed in traffic accidents nationwide in 2018. If that sounds alarming, it’s because it is…
According to the council and safety agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), consistently high rates of fatal wrecks are a major concern that warrants a deeper dive into the problems behind the numbers, as well as the need to enact changes which protect public safety.
Though fatal wrecks are a concern throughout the country, they’ve also become particularly troublesome in Florida. Each year, Florida consistently ranks atop the country’s most dangerous states when it comes to traffic accidents – especially those that result in the deaths of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others on the road. While there are many reasons behind this, recent studies and new data show a few primary concerns:
- Hit-and-run accidents – A study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that Florida is among the top three states with the most deadly hit-and-run crashes per capita. The study, which examined crash data from 2006 through 2016, found that Florida saw more than 1,800 fatal hit-and-run wrecks resulting in at least one death, and 206 of those deaths in 2016 alone.
- Pedestrian fatalities – Pedestrians are notoriously the most at-risk individuals on public roads, and the numbers of pedestrian deaths make that clear. In the Sunshine State, pedestrians are more likely to be struck and fatally injured by motor vehicles than those who navigate the streets on foot in any other state, according to a study from Smart Growth America. South Florida is among the most dangerous region in the state in terms of fatal pedestrian accidents.
- Bicyclist deaths – Being a pedestrian in Florida isn’t the only way to face higher risks when it comes to fatal accidents; bicyclists are also at risk. According to public data and the Orlando Sentinel, bicycle riders in Florida are far and above the most likely to be killed in traffic accidents than riders in any other state. In addition to high rates of injury-causing bicycle accidents, Florida’s per-capita cyclist death rate is nearly 60% higher than the second-leading state.
- Distracted driving – Officials from agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the NTSB have noted for years just how dangerous driver distraction can be on our roads. Distracted driving is a major problem throughout Florida, causing thousands of injuries and deaths each year. State officials report that distracted driving caused more than 50,000 crashes in 2017 alone, as well as more than 220 deaths.
- Impaired driving – Drivers who operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs have long been a scourge to public safety. That’s no different in Florida, where data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle department shows our state is one of the most dangerous for impaired driving. According to the FLHSMV, there were more than 5,200 crashes and over 460 deaths in the state in 2016 linked to alcohol, as well as hundreds of fatal car accidents involving drivers who were under the influence of drugs, including opioid medications.
- Speeding – Speeding is prohibited for a reason; higher speeds substantially increase the likelihood of car accidents, as well as the severity of injuries and potentially fatal harm. In Florida, where labor shortages are taking their toll on traffic enforcement agencies, speeding is a major risk that continues to cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year.
Your Rights & Options: Pursuing Justice After Preventable Tragedies
Though many of the underlying causes of injury-causing and fatal wrecks are illegal – including fleeing the scene, driving under the influence, and driving while distracted – any criminal case or traffic citation that may arise from prohibited acts focus only on a driver’s guilt, not their financial responsibility for damages victims suffered. Because these matters offer no meaningful compensation to victims and families that face considerable medical bills, financial losses, and emotional suffering, those victims or surviving family members will need to pursue a civil personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to recover what they deserve.
As a civil trial law firm that focuses 100% of our practice on fighting for victims and families following preventable tragedies, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin is available to help residents throughout West Palm Beach and the state of Florida better understand their legal rights and options. If you have questions about a recent accident that could or should have been prevented, speak with a lawyer from our team. We offer free and confidential case evaluations.
Call (561) 922-0258 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.