South Florida car accidents expected to be among highest in nation, even as traffic fatalities decline

Fewer traffic fatalities occurred nationwide in 2009 than during any year since 1954, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Florida consistently ranks among the top three states nationwide for the number of fatal traffic accidents, joining California and Texas. Florida counties with the most fatal traffic accidents are Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

As we reported recently on our South Florida Injury Lawyer blog, 3,213 Florida traffic fatalities occurred in 2007, compared to 2,878 in 2008. The government will release state statistics for 2009 later this year.

Authorities cite the economic downturn and high unemployment for some of the drop in fatal traffic accidents and expect accident statistics will begin to rise again with an economic recovery.

However, fatal traffic accidents have declined now for 15 consecutive quarters and, based on the number of vehicle-miles traveled, have now reached the lowest level ever recorded. Authorities also attribute some of the success to highly visible campaigns promoting safe-driving behavior, including “Click It or Ticket” and “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.”

“This is exciting news, but there are still far too many people dying in traffic accidents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their focus on the road in order to stay safe.”

Overall, the government projects there were a total of 33,963 traffic deaths in 2009, an 8.9 percent decrease over the 37,261 deaths recorded during 2008.