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Known for its sandy beaches and abundance of sunshine, Florida is the go-to state for vacationers looking to relax and have fun in the sun. Unfortunately, Florida is also the top state for car accidents, which makes it imperative for visitors and residents to be mindful and practice safe driving skills. According to statistics released by the FLHSMV (Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) there were 403,626 total crashes in Florida in 2018, which is the latest reporting year available. The three counties with the highest number of auto accidents were Miami-Dade with 64,627; Broward with 41,082; and Orange with 31,917.
Why Do These Accidents Occur?
There are many different reasons why these accidents occur, but some causes are more common than others. Distracted driving is one of those causes. Distracted driving is engaging in any other activity that takes your attention away from driving. Examples include eating and drinking, using a cell phone, or being preoccupied with other priorities. It can also include adjusting the volume on your radio or engaging with other occupants in the vehicle. It is very easy to become distracted while driving.
Speeding is another frequently cited reason for auto accidents. Pay close attention to posted speed limits, as it is easy to speed without even being aware of it. Speeding reduces your time to react when something unexpected happens, such as another driver swerving into your lane, and it also increases the amount of distance you will need to bring your vehicle to a stop. The amount of damage and injuries that you could sustain if an accident occurs increases the faster you go.
Driving while drowsy is dangerous and leads to auto accidents. Drowsy driving can slow down your thought process and decrease your reaction time. The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to make sure you have had adequate sleep before getting behind the wheel and to avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep. Also, if you feel tired, pull over and rest until you can drive safely. Florida has approximately 53 highway rest areas to make sure drivers have a place to go for a much needed break.
Poor Road Conditions
Inclement weather conditions and unsafe roadways are factors that contribute to auto accidents. While it is sometimes necessary to drive in bad conditions it should be avoided when possible. Fog, rain, and high winds impact your ability to safely control your vehicle and with Florida ranking #5 in the US for the most rain, it means a higher chance of accidents. Nearly 1,235,000 crashes each year are weather-related with 70% of those happening on slick roadways and 46% occuring while raining. When you do have to drive in these types of conditions it is even more important to pay close attention to your surroundings, drive slowly, and make sure you leave early so that you’ll have plenty of time to arrive safely.
Road construction and debris in the road can also lead to more accidents. In fact, Miami-Dade’s stretch of I-95 is considered one of the deadliest. This is not only due to high congestion, but the poorly maintained road and narrow shoulder of the express lanes add to the danger.
Driving While Intoxicated or Distracted
Although driving under the influence decreases your ability to make sound judgments, concentrate, and react, driving while intoxicated continues to be a major problem on Florida highways. In 2018 alone there were 5,106 confirmed crashes caused by alcohol in the state. 820 of those cases occurred in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Orange counties. Accidents involving alcohol happen more frequently at night on weekends and holidays and are easily preventable. Similarly, distracted and aggressive drivers definitely play a major part in accidents in all Florida counties. Although there are legal consequences for both drunk driving and distracted driving, it still results in thousands of accidents every year.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Another contributing factor to auto accidents on the Florida highways is failure on the part of the driver to properly maintain their vehicle. To keep from becoming a statistic and help prevent an accident before it happens, make sure to keep your vehicle in good working order. This means taking preventative measures such as having the oil changed and tires rotated on a regular basis. Windshield wipers need to be replaced when they start to become worn and lights should be checked to ensure they are working. Pay attention to your vehicle and have it looked at by a professional if it is not performing correctly. Small steps such as this can go a long way in helping to avoid an accident.