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2009 Florida Traffic Statistics Tell Two Stories

There are certainly two ways to look at statistics recently revealed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles concerning motor vehicle accidents occurring in 2009.

On the positive side, the Florida Department of Transportation division reports that there were more than 400 fewer deaths in the state from motor vehicle crashes last year than occurred in 2008. Looked at another way, 2,563 people did die on Florida roadways in 2009, which adds up to a sobering average of seven traffic deaths per day in the state.

Nonetheless, traffic officials are quite encouraged by the numbers. They point especially to the statistic called “deaths per 100 million miles,” which dropped to 1.3 fatalities and represented the lowest number ever recorded by the Florida Highway Patrol.

The reasons for improved safety are various, but officials highlight as a key factor a new seat-belt law that went into effect in the summer of 2009. Prior to its enactment, a police officer could issue a driver a ticket for not buckling up only if the officer first observed that driver committing another violation. The new law changed that, allowing traffic officers to ticket drivers solely for not wearing safety belts.

That has certainly made a difference. Says David T. Firth, a Highway Patrol spokesman: “Once the law became effective in July, countless lives were saved.”

Additional factors are also cited, including stronger guard rails on roads and better highway lighting.

Last year’s deaths still constitute a high number, of course, and underscore how dangerous driving can be, even with increased protections.

Related Resource: Gainesville.com “Safer Highways” June 24, 2010

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