Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky regrets to report that the number of car accident deaths across America rose the most since the 1940s. The increase over the past year was unexpected, as car accident deaths and injuries had been on a downward trend over the past fifty years – due to vehicle safety innovations, reduction in drunk driving crashes, and lower speed limits. Those changes are the reason why the rate of car accident deaths dropped to their lowest number, prior to the pandemic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 43,000 people lost their lives in car and truck accidents last year, an increase of 10.5% over 2020, which itself had the highest death rate in fifteen years. In comparison, during 2019, car accident death rates rose nearly 20 percent, which was the highest rise since the mid-1940s. Trying to determine the reason for the dramatic increase is difficult, but researchers believe it is a deadly combination of faster reckless drivers using their phones while behind the wheel.
Not surprisingly, Florida is a top state for distraction-related automobile deaths, according to data from MoneyGeek.The Sunshine State had over 500 distracted driving deaths during the years 2019 to 2020. The only state with more distracted driving deaths during that time was Texas. In hopes of changing the path of deadly crashes in Florida, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and the Florida Highway Patrol started a campaign, during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to teach Florida motorists about the importance of avoiding distracted driving. According to FLHSMV data, distracted driving crashes resulted in 333 fatalities in 2021 – the highest recorded in Florida in at least 8 years. On average, there were more than 1,000 distracted driving crashes every week across Florida last year.
In addition to distracted drivers causing deadly crashes, increases in the number of electric cars, which are faster than internal combustion vehicles, led to greater risks for pedestrians and bicyclists, who may not hear the approaching electric vehicle. The number of heavy vehicles with greater horsepower on the roadways is also at an all-time high. Heavy fast vehicles dramatically increase the likelihood of death or serious injuries from a crash. The EPA found that vehicle’s average horsepower has nearly doubled over the last 20 years.
Also, large trucks and SUVs, given their weight, are especially dangerous for pedestrians. Data shows that these vehicles pose a deadlier threat to pedestrians as compared to cars when making turns. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that while a vehicle with a higher ride height can help with down the road visibility, they cause the driver to have a greater blind spot in the areas immediately in front of the high vehicle. Increasingly bigger vehicle is a reason why more than seven thousand pedestrians died in traffic accidents last year, a rise of more than thirteen percent from the prior year. Although we drove the least number of miles during the Covid-19 lockdowns, because those on the road drove more carelessly, there was actually an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths per mile driven. In order to turn the tide against the rising number of roadway traffic deaths, there needs to be greater regulatory changes, in combination with drive behavior changes – particularly making sure drivers and passengers use their seatbelts. The NHTSA’s data shows the number of unrestrained drivers and passenger who have died in car accident rose more than twenty percent over the last two years.
Having helped too many families deal with the tragic death of a loved one after a Florida car accident caused by a distracted or reckless driver, we again tell your fellow Floridians, please put your phone down when you’re behind the wheel. Even a quick glance at your phone while your vehicle is moving puts everyone else on the road, and all passengers in your vehicle, in danger.