Distracted driving likely behind increase in Florida traffic deaths

Traffic deaths in Florida have been on an upward trend for a number of years now. As the Gainesville Sun points out, car accident fatalities in the Sunshine State have risen 21 percent from 2011 to 2015, while injuries have gone up 34 percent. Such a worrying trend is leading many safety experts to wonder why driving in Florida seems to be becoming more dangerous, especially in comparison to other large states. While some have pointed to high speed limits and low gas prices, many believe that distracted driving is likely a leading factor.

Deadlier roads

Along with the 21 percent increase in deaths and 34 percent jump in injuries, overall there has been a staggering 63 percent increase in crashes in Florida from 2011 to 2015. Distracted driving likely plays a big role in that increase. Last year was the first time that the state collected data on distracted driving crashes. It found that there were 45,740 crashes caused by distracted drivers in 2015, which led to 214 deaths.

However, the problem may be even worse than those figures suggest. Officials note that it is often difficult to tell whether a driver may have been distracted at the time of an accident. Many motorists, for example, will deny driving while on a cellphone. In cases where the motorist has been killed, it can be especially difficult to determine whether he or she may have been distracted when the crash occurred.

High speeds, lagging laws

Additionally, as the News-Press points out, not only are Florida traffic fatalities rising, but they are already much more common than in states of a similar size. New York, for example, has about the same population as Florida, yet Florida's traffic fatality rate is about double what New York's is.

That discrepancy may be due to a confluence of factors. For one, Florida's distracted driving laws are seen as being relatively weak compared to other states. The Sunshine State, for example, prohibits texting and driving, but it has not made talking on a cellphone while driving illegal. Furthermore, New York has a lower speed limit than Florida on major highways, which may also help reduce the overall traffic fatality rate in New York. Finally, safety experts point out that lower gas prices are making it more affordable for people to drive, which in turn leads to more road congestion and more opportunities for accidents to happen.

Hurt in a crash?

Florida's roads and highways are getting more dangerous. As traffic increases and distracted driving grows as a threat, drivers must take extra care to protect themselves. When a crash does happen, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help those who have been hurt in a crash make sense of their options. In some cases, an attorney may be able to help accident victims pursue financial claims against another driver who may have been at fault for the accident.