Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

Distracted, aggressive, drunk and just plain bad drivers

Look through the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper on any given day and you are likely to find several stories about the pain and misery caused by negligent drivers on roads throughout Central Florida every day. It probably doesn't come as a surprise to learn that in a typical year, ranks among the three or four states* for recorded motor vehicle crash fatalities.

The death toll in a typical year exceeds 2,500, including drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and truckers. But the sheer number of deaths doesn't reveal just how bad things are out there. After all, Florida has a population of more than 20 million people and we should expect a higher death toll. Unfortunately, though, Florida's rate of 14.5 crash deaths per 100,000 population and 1.42 accident deaths per million miles driven are also among the national leaders; giving us a truer picture of just how dangerous things have become on our roads, highways and interstates.

How the numbers break down

When it comes to traffic accident fatalities, all roads and vehicles are not created equal in Florida. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the approximate statistical breakdown in a typical year looks like this:

  • Occupants of cars: 32 percent
  • Pedestrians: 22 percent
  • Motorcyclists/passengers: 21 percent
  • Occupants of pickup trucks and SUVs: 18 percent
  • Bicyclists: 5 percent
  • Commercial trucks and other vehicles: 2 percent

And where the roads are located makes a difference, too:

  • Urban roads and highways: 42 percent
  • Rural areas: 15 percent
  • Suburban and unspecified: 43 percent

Roughly 54 percent of the fatal accidents are single-car crashes and nearly 59 percent involved drivers with an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the scene.

So what point are we trying to make?

Somewhere lost in these statistics is the fact that our roads and highways in Central Florida are already over-crowded and dangerous. DUI drivers, aggressive driving and poor road conditions make things deadly enough. In recent years, though, we can also add what has become the number one cause of accidents: distracted driving. Whether using a cell phone to check messages, texting while driving, putting on makeup, eating/drinking or head bobbing to the radio, drivers in Florida are paying less and less attention to the road in front of them, and our fatal accident rates continue to prove it.

Some common sense things you can do

While we cannot control what other drivers will do behind the wheel of their car, we can offer some simple tips for protecting yourself from acts of negligence on our roads.

And yes, we know you have heard them before:

1. Drive within the speed limit: Yes, we know that it will probably mean driving in the right lane as cars zip past in the left lane, but speed limits are set according to the design of the road. Trust that traffic and highway engineers knew what they were doing when they set the speed.

2. Maintain your distance: Nobody knows what the drivers ahead of you will do at any given moment. Keeping a safe driving distance allows you to react appropriately under unexpected circumstances.

3. Put your phone away: Turn it off. Put it in the glove box. Any messages you receive will still be waiting for you when you can safely pull over to respond.

4. If in doubt about your alcohol consumption, don't drive: In 2015, more than 600 drivers died in DUI accidents because they thought they knew their limit.

If you lost a loved one in a car accident in Central Florida, get legal help

To learn more about motor vehicle accidents and how we can help you recover full and fair compensation for wrongful death in a car crash in Central Florida, please contact us.

*All percentages have been rounded, based on 2015 statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute

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