Florida’s Roads Becoming Deadlier

The number of crashes on local and state roads has skyrocketed since 2011, and distracted driving, such as texting and checking emails, is likely the main culprit.

A new study indicates the United States might be looking at its deadliest driving year since 2007—a report that comes just one day after news that the U.S. set a record for miles traveled in the first half of 2016. And, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), Florida has been hit the hardest by the increase in traffic deaths.

Motorists drive 1.58 trillion miles—or 250 round trips from Earth to Pluto—between January and June, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported this week. This increase seems to have brought with it an increase in fatalities. The NSC released a study that found traffic deaths up by nine percent since 2015, and 18 percent higher than in 2014. The report shows Florida having the deadliest increase, with an estimated 43 percent rise in fatalities since 2014.

Between January and June, Florida recorded 1,114 traffic fatalities. The NSC attributes the rise in fatalities to the influx of traffic brought on by a more robust economy and drop in unemployment rates since the Great Recession, coupled with lower gas prices than in the first six months of 2015.

Further, the rise is also strongly attributed to DUI crashes and distracted drivers. In 2015, the first year the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles started tracking distracted driving crashes, 214 died statewide. All told, there were 45,740 distracted-driving-related crashes in 2015 in Florida.

Yet, the ban on texting while driving doesn’t appear to be helping in Florida. Out of every ten crashes that have occurred in Florida during 2016, 8 have been the result of distracted driving. Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary offense in Florida, meaning a police officer must stop a driver for a different reason to fine them.

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