After several years of steadily decreasing traffic deaths, a recent article in the Sun Sentinel reports that fatal traffic accidents are on the rise thus far in 2012 in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 85 people have died in traffic accidents in Palm Beach County as of July 31, compared to 77 people as of the same date in 2011. Similarly, 106 traffic fatalities have occurred in Broward County as of July 31, as compared with 87 at this time last year. If these trends continue for the remainder of 2012, the total number of traffic deaths in both counties will well surpass 2011 numbers.
Some law enforcement officers and legislators believe that distracted driving is a major factor in causing an increased number of traffic fatalities on Florida roadways. To date, Florida remains one of only a handful of states that has no laws prohibiting any type of distracted driving, including cell phone usage or texting while driving.
Another spokesperson from the Florida Department of Transportation, however, noted that it is not unusual to see a slight increase in fatalities after years of dramatic downward trends. As the economy has improved somewhat recently, and gas prices have eased to some degree, traffic has undoubtedly increased, thus resulting in more traffic fatalities.
Moreover, law enforcement officials point out that one reason for the relatively sharp decreases in traffic deaths in recent years is increased law enforcement activities with respect to traffic laws. Recent statistics show that, in 2011 in Palm Beach County, 91% of drivers and passengers wore their seatbelts, whereas in Broward County, almost 90% did the same. With such high rates of compliance with seatbelt laws, law enforcement’s ability to influence the rate of traffic deaths may simply have reached its limits.
The personal injury attorneys of Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP, have seen the results of distracted driving and fatal traffic accidents all too often in their professional careers, and sincerely hope that the increases in traffic fatalities in Palm Beach and Broward Counties do not continue. However, if the unthinkable does occur as the result of another person’s negligence, the family of the victim may be able to recover compensation to help ease their financial concerns. If you or a loved one is the victim of a motor vehicle accident, please contact the Florida motor vehicle accident attorneys at Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP, and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your rights and options.