In Florida, a car crash occurs every 84 seconds.
Car crash data provided by Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reports a total of 374,342 crashes for 2015 (the most recent year’s published statistics), reflecting an almost 9 percent increase over the previous year.
That breaks down to 1,026 accidents each day on the Florida roadways — or about 43 car crashes every hour.
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How Many People Die or Sustain Injuries in Florida Car Crashes?
In 2015, more than 225,000 people sustained injuries in a Florida car accident. Almost 2,500 lost their lives, an 18 percent increase over the prior year.
Although you may suspect that increase is because more people move to our state every year, or because people are driving longer distances, DHSMV figures the number of “Vehicle Miles” traveled each year in Florida, based on the number of licensed drivers and registered vehicles. This calculation provides a statistic called “Mileage Death Rate,” allowing us to make an accurate comparison between years and other states.
In 2015, Florida experienced 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. That may sound low; however, that number for 2014 was 1.24. The increase in the 2015 Mileage Death Rate represents the first increase since 2005. From 2005 through 2014, the Florida car crash-related death rate had declined steadily and significantly.
There were also more crash-related injuries in 2015 than any year since 1996.
How Do Florida’s Car Crash Deaths Compare With the National Average?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute tracks national car crash data as well as injuries and fatalities.
Using the Mileage Death Rate calculation, you can see how Florida compared to other states and the national average in 2015.
South Carolina (highest) 1.89
National Average 1.13
Massachusetts (lowest) 0.52
Florida’s vehicle miles traveled in 2015 were 206,982 million, which was the second highest total in the United States, following California, at 335,539 million.
As you can see, traveling more miles does not necessarily reflect a trend toward more deaths per mile. This means that Florida drivers face a higher risk of dying in a car crash than almost any other state in the U.S.
What Causes Florida Car Crashes?
Although the causes of Florida car crashes range from potholes to farm equipment, the most common causes of vehicle accidents, injuries, and fatalities probably will not surprise you.
Impaired drivers, including those driving drunk or on drugs, caused 26 percent of Florida’s traffic fatalities in 2015, according to MADD. Drunk driving accidents have a significantly increased likelihood of injuries and fatalities, as they tend to occur at higher speeds. The CDC reports that, for 2014, Florida has the third highest number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the U.S, behind Texas and California.
Distracted driving causes more and more crashes in Florida every year. Most distracted driving accidents involved motorists using a smartphone behind the wheel.
Commercial trucks cause a significant number of injury accidents and fatalities in Florida every year. Their sheer size and weight contribute to their deadliness when involved in crashes with passenger motor vehicles.
Motorcycle crashes cause the highest percentage of injury accidents and fatalities in Florida, year after year. The structure of a motorcycle provides scant protection for the rider and passenger, and motorists often fail to see bikers on the road — especially when the motorist is distracted or impaired.
In Florida, drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 caused almost 43,000 car crashes in 2015, up 10.5 percent over the prior year. Teen drivers lack the experience that older adults possess and are much more likely to drive while distracted.
Florida is home to a large percent of residents over the age of 65, many of whom continue to drive well into their 80s and beyond. Mature drivers caused more than 65,000 car crashes in 2015. Although they are least likely to drive distracted, their waning eyesight, hearing, and reflexes can lead to an increased likelihood of causing an accident on the roadways.
The most effective way to stay safe on the road in Florida is to buckle up. Drivers and passengers involved in car crashes suffered significantly fewer serious injuries and fatalities when they had a shoulder and lap belt in place.
For motorcyclists and their passengers, wearing a DOT-compliant helmet decreases the likelihood of crash-related injury as well.
If you are ever in a crash, call the Florida car accident lawyers of the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine for help. You can reach us at 800-747-3733.