The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has a large overview. Not only is the organization tasked with driver education and licensing, they are also responsible for oversight of the Florida Highway Patrol and generating reports on traffic and crashes. Every year the FLHSMV puts out a new report that shares information regarding previous crashes. These reports can help us determine where we may need to focus our resources in the coming years to reduce traffic accidents and lessen the loss of life.
Published in December 2017, the latest Traffic Crash Facts covers accidents that occurred in 2016. This report, which is published annually, allows us to see the rate of change in traffic accidents and traffic fatalities and allows us to measure the utility of our current traffic programs. It can also serve to challenge commonly held views and enlighten residents regarding the true causes of traffic accidents and how to avoid them.
Surprising Florida Crash Statistics
The following information was taken from the previously cited Traffic Crash Facts 2016 Annual report. Looking at the figures, we were surprised by the number of accidents that happen in Hillsborough County.
- 395,785 traffic accidents were reported in 2016 involving 668,699 drivers.
- An average of 1,081 traffic accidents occur across the state daily.
- 3,176 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2016.
- 667 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2016.
- ⅓ of accidents involve a driver who is between 15-24 years old.
- Fewer than 6,000 crashes involved confirmed alcohol or drug use.
- The number one cause given for fatal crashes and traffic accidents in general is “operated MV in careless or negligent manner,”—i.e. Distracted driving or aggressive driving.
- The second highest cause of fatal traffic accidents is failing to yield the right of way.
- Hillsborough County has the 5th most traffic accidents in the state but the 2nd most traffic fatalities.
- In Hillsborough County, traffic fatalities in 2016 increased by 20% over 2015, while traffic accidents only increased by 6.52%.
- Hillsborough County had the most alcohol confirmed crashes in the state.
- Hillsborough County had the 3rd most motorcycle accidents in the state—but the most motorcycle fatalities.
Reducing Future Traffic Accidents
When looking at these stark figures, it can be easy to get upset or feel helpless. However, these numbers provide us with insight into what we can do differently to help ensure more people make it to their destinations safely, whether they’re in a car, riding a motorcycle, pedaling on the side of the road, or walking their dogs.
First, it’s important to point out that most crashes (57%) result in only property damage. That means that over half of accidents involve only damage to the vehicles involved or to structures like fences and mailboxes. These fender benders represent the most common type of accident. Reducing this type of accident may be as simple as ensuring that one’s attention is always on the road.
Second, it’s notable that most accidents are avoidable. Most traffic accidents occur during the daytime and with good weather conditions. While we cannot control how others drive, we can certainly control how we act behind the wheel. It can be easy to be lulled into complacency by a gorgeous sunny day and a familiar route, however, it is important to drive assertively and to constantly be aware of others on the road so as to be able to maneuver safely.
The biggest commitment to safe driving Floridians can make is to eschew distracted driving. Put cell phones in a place where you won’t be tempted to check your notifications and don’t let your focus wander from the road. As more of us commit to curbing distracted driving, those daunting traffic accidents statistics will reflect the changes on the roadways and highlight the safe driving across the state.