Traffic fatalities are on the rise both nationally and in Florida. Unfortunately, during the first six months of 2015 there have been 18, 630 fatal car crashes nationally.
It should be very concerning to all Floridians that the Sunshine State ranks 3rd in total number of fatal crashes and 2nd in percentage increase since the beginning of 2015, according to data estimates from the National Safety Council. A 29% increase in Florida from last year—more than double the national average—represents a jump from 1,114 to 1,441 fatal crashes from the first six months of 2014. Florida trails only Oregon in percentage increase and Texas and California for total deaths through the first six months of 2015. Florida is in 3rd by a large margin—more than double Georgia, which has had 657 fatal crashes during the first six months of 2015. Overall, 35 states have seen an increase in traffic fatalities since 2014.
According to the manager of statistics for the National Safety Council, the reason for an increase in traffic fatalities is due to cheaper gas prices and a strengthening economy, which means more cars of the road, which leads to more crashes. A stronger economy can also make people more likely to do something unsafe like drive drunk, according to Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Due to a 30% decrease in gas prices from this time last year, there has been a 3.4% increase nationally in cumulative vehicle mileage. The country is up to 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015; an all-time record besting the previous mark from 2007, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
While statistics show that fatal crashes are on the rise, there is a simple common sense approach to combat the issue. Since the biggest risk factors for fatal crashes involve drinking and driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and texting while driving, the National Safety Council recommends that drivers make sure all passengers wear seat belts, designate an alcohol free driver on nights out, get enough sleep before driving, and never ever use cell phones while driving. Government officials can also help by passing common sense laws that increase safety and rejecting ideas like increasing speed limits.
One of the best ways to decrease traffic fatalities in a large segment of society is to recognize the dangers of cell phones while driving. This habit, while dangerous, has become accepted and the norm in our society even though 98% of adults say they know the practice is unsafe.
Below are horrifying statistics that convey the dangerousness of cell phones while driving.
- 9 Americans are killed every day from car accidents that involve distracted driving, such as using a cell phone, texting or eating.
- 1 in 4 is the probability that a car accident involved someone using a cell phone while driving.
- There is a 40% probability that a car crash involved a cell phone.
- 33% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 reported reading or writing text messages while driving, compared to only 15% of drivers from Spain.
- On average, drivers take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to send a text message