According to a report released last week by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, traffic fatalities dropped by 14 percent last year, reaching the lowest rate o record. 2009 was the fourth consecutive year of decreases. Motorcycle accident fatalities plunged by a whopping 24 percent over the same period.
The report, called the "2009 Florida Traffic Crash Statistics Report," summarizes information submitted by state and local law enforcement agencies.
"The report shows that we are moving toward the Department's vision of a safer Florida," the DHSMV's executive director, Julie L. Jones, said in a recent WCTV story.
"While multiple factors influence the numbers, the declining trends are a testament to the emphasis that law enforcement agencies, safety advocates and businesses have placed on saving lives on our roadways."
Reductions in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents and Teen Fatalities a Happy Surprise
Driver and passenger fatalities due to motorcycle accidents dropped by 24 percent in 2009, which is a welcome development. When Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated a study of motorcycling fatalities, showing a steady upward trend through 2003.
There were 402 fatalities from motorcycle accidents in 2009, which is still above the 2003 number of 358. There were 164 motorcycling fatalities in 1999 and, when that number jumped to 241 after the repeal of the helmet law, the statistics looked grim.
The 24 percent reduction in motorcycle fatalities last year -- from 532 in 2008 -- is impressive.
Fatal accidents involving teen drivers also fell significantly -- more than 20 percent. This is great news, since teen drivers are consistently more likely to be involved in car accidents than drivers over 19. Teens still have the highest crash rate of any age group.
Other positive trends highlighted in the report include:
- Overall, the number of fatal car accidents in Florida decreased by 14 percent last year. The number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled dropped to only 1.3 in 2009, which is the lowest level ever.
- Fatal DUI accidents also fell by 14 percent, although the number was still high. More than 1,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents last year.
- Fatalities among bicyclists and their passengers dropped 15 percent, and fatal pedestrian accidents went down four percent.
- "Florida's 2009 Crash Statistics Now Available Online" (WCTV, June 29, 2010)
- "2009 Florida Traffic Crash Statistics Report" (Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, June 23, 2010)
- "Evaluation of the Repeal of the All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Laws In Florida" (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, August 2005)