Florida car accidents are reportedly on the rise, according to the Florida Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), with the latest figures showing crashes in Lee County alone are up more than 11 percent.
The latest tally indicates that in the first five months of 2015, from Jan. 1st through May 31st, there were 4,609 crashes reported on Lee County roads. Then in 2016 during that same time frame, there were 5,119 crashes on Lee County roads – an uptick of 11.06 percent. There were another 83 crashes reported in the first four days of the month.
In Florida statewide, there have been 158,399 traffic accidents reported in the first five months of this year (with another 977 reported in the first handful of days in June). That’s compared to 151,989 in 2015. That’s an uptick of 4.2 percent.
In Fort Myers specifically, there were 1,028 crashes in the first five months of 2016, compared to 919 this time last year. That’s an increase of 11.9 percent.
So what’s going on?
Well, local officials have yet to weigh in. Our Fort Myers car accident lawyers are among the first to note the trend. But some news outlets across the state have been picking up on the problem, and a few theories are being floated around.
For example, the WOKV in Jacksonville, where Florida Highway Patrol officials noted a 30 percent jump in crashes along Interstate 295 and a 25 percent surge in I-95 crashes in Duval County in the first four months of the year, it’s believed construction is a factor. Drivers are using these routes to avoid certain construction zones on I-10 and I-95. However, transportation officials say also the reduced price of gasoline has resulted in more overall vehicle miles traveled.
Another news outlet to weigh in was TCPalm.com, which noted motor vehicle crashes rose sharply across the Treasure Coast. For example in St. Lucie County from 2011 to 2015, motor vehicle crashes rose 100 percent. In Martin County during that time frame, they rose 105 percent. In Indian River, they rose 105 percent.
The state average increase during that time frame is 64 percent.
In Lee County from 2011 to 2015, it rose 100 percent – from 4,419 to 10,425. Perhaps unsurprisingly, injuries followed that same trajectory – from 4,136 in 2011 to 6,755 in 2015.
Again in Indian River County, officials cited a series of construction projects, which create more danger zones for drivers. Construction zones tend to have a higher percentage of crashes than other areas.
But that’s not the only problem.
Another major issue is distraction. Although Florida law prohibits texting while driving, many motorists do it anyway. Most know they can get away with it because it’s a secondary offense. That is, police can’t pull you over for it, though they can ticket you for it if you are stopped for some other traffic offense.
There were an estimated 45,000 distracted driving accidents in Florida last year, according to statewide records. Those crashes caused nearly 40,000 injuries and 214 deaths.
Another factor is the improving economy. This of course is a double-edged sword because we have lower unemployment rates, increased construction, lower gas costs and a record influx of tourists in the state. All of that is great news – but it’s also collectively led to a rise in crashes and injuries.
The biggest takeaway is that our roads are more dangerous today than they were five years ago, and even much more so than last year. It’s all the more reason to obey the speed limits, put down your phone and drive defensively.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Rich Campbell: Do you reside in Treasure Coast county that leads Florida in traffic crash increases, June 3, 2015, By Rich Campbell, TCPalm.com
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Bogatov v. City of Hallendale Beach – Florida Playground Injury Litigated, June 4, 2016, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog