Traffic fatalities in Florida dropped 14 percent in 2009 (2010 reports are not yet out) and motorcycle fatalities fell an even greater 24 percent! Those figures are the lowest on record and culminate 4 years in a row of decreases. Of course, statistics aren’t people and any fatalities at all are tragic occurrences. Let’s look at some trends in motorcycle use and practices in Florida to shed some light on how these results are being achieved and how they might continue to improve.
There were 14,983,437 registered vehicles in Florida in 2009. Of those vehicles, just over 6 percent, or approximately 929,000, were motorcycles. Motorcycle use in Florida has increased steadily since 1997 along with the growth of the baby boomer population. As the economy took a dive and population decreased in 2009 for the first time since World War II, one might expect motorcycle use to do the same. This was not the case. Motorcyclists grow by 2 percent over the previous year. In a place where warm weather, beautiful scenery and glorious sunshine are prime draws for visitors and residents alike, it’s not surprising for people to enjoy these attributes on a motorcycle.
Florida repealed it’s helmet law requiring all riders to wear helmets in 2000. Currently, anyone 21 or older may ride without a helmet as long as they have at least $10,000 of medical insurance benefits to cover injuries incurred while operating a motorcycle. After the repeal, Florida motorcycle accident fatalities steadily increased through 2003. Though that trend is changing, the percentage of motorcycle accidents compared to all accidents has gone up in recent years; peaking at 17.8 percent in 2008. The year 2009 showed a drop to 15.7, most likely due to a Motorcycle Safety Coalition being implemented in July, 2008 along with new rider training requirements. These new factors should help continue the decrease.
Interestingly, riders injured and killed in motorcycle crashes are not in the same younger age group which accounts for the most car crashes. More motorcyclists aged 45 – 54 were injured and killed in 2009 than any other age group. Though Florida is a popular tourist destination and hosts a number of motorcycle events such as Bike Week in Daytona Beach and Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally in Panama City, just under 90 percent of motorbike injuries and 94 percent of fatalities are residents, not visitors.
One of the best way to make roadways safer for motorcyclists in Florida is for the riders themselves to drive defensively. Motorcycles are easily lost in cars’ blind spots. Most of all, since 40 percent of riders killed in motorcycle accidents are not wearing helmets, wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the chances of being killed in a motorcycle crash.
Contact the Injury Law Clinic today to speak to a Miramar Florida injury attorney.
Automobile accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. There is some risk involved every time an individual gets behind the wheel of their car or truck. No matter how good a driver someone is, and inattentive moment or miscalculation by another driver can lead to disaster. While crashes have become much more survivable with the addition of safety measures like air bags, antilock brakes, three-point rear seat belts and reinforced crumple zones, manufacturers have not yet devised a way to prevent accidents from happening altogether. Until they do the safest course of action is to drive defensively and with a clear head.
According to the statistics in the state of Florida in 2007, there were 256,206 crashes. That translates to about 702 traffic accidents every single day. Law enforcement officers are required by the state to submit a report any time they are called upon to investigate an accident that involves personal injury or death as well as what types of contributing factors were involved. This makes it possible for regulators to come up with a reliable report as to how many accidents involve someone leaving the scene and whether or not alcohol or narcotics were involved.
During 2007 there were 366,917 drivers involved in traffic accidents. These accidents resulted in 3’221 deaths. Those deaths occurred in 2’947 different fatal accidents. While deaths are fairly rare, injuries are not. 212,149 injuries resulted from 135,601 accidents. Of the over a quarter of a million accidents that happened in 2007, 117,658 resulted in property damage only. Alcohol was at least partially to blame for 22,823 of those accidents and drugs were involved in 1,252. It is not just cars that get in accidents, as motorcycle crashes accounted for 9,205 of all accidents that occurred in 2007. Pedestrians and bicycles were also involved in these traffic collisions accounting for 8,129 and 4,847 respectively.
The same state agency that came up with those sobering figures also reported that drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were involved in more accidents than any other age group and also suffered more fatal crashes. Not surprisingly, drivers between the ages of 20 and 24 were involved in the highest amount of alcohol related accidents of any age group. Most accidents within the state of Florida during that year occurred on Friday and Saturday evenings. Being aware of surroundings and never driving impaired are two of the most important things that any driver can do to prevent themselves from being involved in an auto mobile accident.
When the road is wet everything changes. You can’t see. You need more response time. The rules you drive by have to change. If you try to drive the same way you do when it is dry and sunny, you put yourself at risk for accidents. There are thousands of serious car accidents every year that are the result of unsafe driving in the rain. When it’s raining it isn’t necessary to stay home. With a few changes to the way you drive when it’s raining will ensure your safety so you don’t have to worry.
First, slow down. There are many benefits to slowing down in the rain. Slowing down gives you more time to react to a perilous situation and decreases the seriousness should you have an accident. It is hard to see when it is raining. Water on your windshield combined with the lights of other vehicles may be confusing. A little extra time to access what you are seeing can be the difference between a serious accident and safety. Keeping a safe distance between your car and the cars around you is another way to give yourself more time to react. Slow down so that you are not following the car in front of you too closely. And pay attention to the cars behind you as well.
Second, stay away from extra water. Driving through puddles or around large trucks and busses puts even more water on your windshield. The more water blocking your view, the more danger you are in. Try not to get too close to trucks or busses that are kicking up the water off the road. If you must pass them try to do it quickly and watch the lines on the road rather than the water being sprayed up. Splashing through puddles does not only decrease your visibility but can also cause mechanical problems. The worst that could happen is that water is taken in through the engine’s air intake and destroys the engine.
Make sure your vehicle is in the proper shape to handle the rain. Regularly replace wiper blades so you have maximum visibility. Headlights should be in working order so that you can see, and others can see you. Understand what your vehicle can handle. Don’t drive through a deep puddle unless you know that it will not affect the mechanical aspects of your vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the water stays beneath the doors of your vehicles.
Finally, if you are injured in a car accident, contact Florida auto accident lawyer Dianna Castrillon at the Injury Law Clinic to make sure your rights are protected.