Florida Fun Traffic School

The Recognized Leader in Traffic School, Defensive Driving and Driver Education

Since the introduction of the automobile in the United States in the early 20th Century, it has been our primary means of transportation. We value our personal freedom and mobility, and this machine allowed us to assert our independence. But this came at a cost: collisions caused by motor vehicles are now the leading cause of death for Americans age 11 and every age 16 to 24.1

What Causes Traffic Crashes?


In order to address the problem of traffic crashes, we must look at what causes them. Although there may be several factors that contribute to crashes, they can all be grouped into three general categories: the roadway environment, the vehicle itself, and people. For example, the following are some of the leading causes of traffic collisions in the United States that can all be attributed to people driving carelessly:

  • Driving at an unsafe speed (too fast or too slow for road conditions)
  • Violating traffic signals and stop signs
  • Failing to follow right-of-way rules
  • Turning improperly
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Driving while distracted by other activities such as talking on the cell phone
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol

These causes are largely the result of negligence, though underlying factors such as stress, judgment errors, and especially driver attitude also play a part. Causes involving vehicles include mechanical failure or design flaws. Environmental factors include road conditions, road design, the weather, and environmental hazards. Of the three factors, the one that is responsible for more than 90% of all crashes is the human factor.2


The Magnitude of the Problem


The Magnitude of the Problem

Traffic collisions cause a significant number of fatalities in the United States each year. In 2014, there were over 6 million police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide, with 32,675 traffic-related fatalities. In addition, over 2.3 million people were injured, with more than 4.3 million crashes causing property damage.3 An average of 90 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2014 alone was $242 billion dollars.4

During 2014 in Florida, there were 344,170 reported crashes, 2,336 of which involved fatalities. Of these crashes, 149,426 caused injuries and 192,408 caused property damage. One person died every 4 hours in Florida as the result of a traffic crash.5 The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in 2014 for Florida was $3 billion dollars.

Demographics

Of the 32,675 people who were killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2014, 68% were vehicle occupants and 14% were motorcyclists. The remaining 18% were pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-occupants.6

In Florida during 2014, there were 2,494 motor vehicle deaths. Of these, 38% were drivers of motor vehicles, 12% were passengers in motor vehicles, 24% were pedestrians, and 5% were bicyclists. 427 motorcyclists were killed.7

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young drivers 15 to 20 years of age in the United States. During 2014, 1,717 teens and young adults 15 to 20 years of age were killed in traffic crashes nationwide.8

Demographics

Similarly, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for children between birth and the age of 15 in Florida, with a disproportionate number of teens and young adults ages 16 to 20 dying in motor vehicle crashes as well. During 2014 in Florida, 68 children between the ages of birth and 14 years were killed in motor vehicle crashes, which accounted for 2.7% of all traffic deaths.9 In 2014, there were 71 traffic-related deaths of teens and young adults ages 16 to 20 years in Florida, accounting for 2.8% of all traffic deaths in the state.10

Furthermore, males accounted for 71% of all traffic fatalities nationwide in 2014.11 These statistics are similar for Florida, with many more male drivers involved in crashes than female drivers. In 2010 in Florida, of the 1,405 drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents, 1,082 (77%) were male and 323 (23%) were female.12 This means that males were proportionately three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash.


Other Factors

Speeding: Improper speed is one of the most common and dangerous contributing factors to motor vehicle crashes as well as violations. Improper speed includes driving faster than the speed limit, driving too slowly, and driving too fast for current road, weather and traffic conditions. Speeding often leads to loss of vehicle control and collisions, and it also increases the severity of the collision if one occurs. At higher speeds, serious injuries or fatalities are much more likely. Excessive speed was a factor in 28% of all traffic fatalities nationwide in 2014, resulting in 9,262 deaths. As may be expected, young males were the most likely to speed. In 2014, 36% of speeding drivers between the age of 15-20 in fatal crashes were male and 34% of speeding drivers between the age of 21-24 in fatal crashes were male. Speeding is estimated to cost society $40.4 billion annually, or $7,300 per second. In Florida during 2014, excessive speed was reported for 10% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes.13

Seat Belt Use: Nationwide approximately 49% of all the vehicle occupants who died in traffic crashes in 2014 were unrestrained. Moreover, victims who were ages 13 to 15 and 25 to 34 accounted for the highest percentage of unrestrained occupants. Of the 3,701 fatalities in this group, 2,173 (58%) were unrestrained.14

During 2014, of the 581,090 drivers and injured passengers involved in crashes in Florida, 503,470 (87%) reported to the police that they had been using an occupant restraint. Of the reported drivers and passengers in motor vehicles crashes, 50% of child fatalities (birth to age 17) resulted from not wearing seat belts. When looking at known seat belt use for motor vehicle fatalities only, 407 drivers (77.8%) killed were not wearing seat belts. A 2014 study by the Florida Department of Transportation estimated Florida statewide belt use at 88.8%.15

Other Factors

Alcohol: Alcohol-related crashes claimed the lives of 9,967 people nationwide in 2014, or 31% of the overall traffic fatality total. There was an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 53 minutes in 2014.16

In Florida, 459 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2014, which was 18% of the total number of people killed that year in motor vehicle crashes. The severity of injuries reported for alcohol-related crashes was much worse than the severity of injuries from crashes not involving alcohol.17

Overall, progress has been made in collision prevention over the last decade with a 25% decrease in the number of those killed in motor vehicle crashes, and a 13-percent decrease in those injured. However, 90 people on average still died each day and one person was killed every 16 minutes in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. The fatality rate per 100 million VMT also decreased to 1.08, a 25.8-percent decline from 2005 (based on unrounded rates).18 Despite these promising statistics, it is important to make sure that you are doing your part and driving as safely as possible. The first step you can take is to evaluate your driving habits and to apply safe driving techniques, which will be covered in the sections that follow. The more people who drive safely, the safer the road will become.

1National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812263.pdf
2GAO-03-436 "Research Continues on a Variety of Factors That Contribute to Motor Vehicle Crashes." United States General Accountability Office Report: Highway Safety, March 2003, pages 4-7
3National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812263.pdf
4National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812263.pdf
5Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. (2014). "Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2014" Retrieved from https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/DHSMVPublishedDocuments/Current_Year/Crash_Facts_2014_as_of_07-30-2015.pdf
6National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812263.pdf
7Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. (2014). "Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2014" Retrieved from https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/DHSMVPublishedDocuments/Current_Year/Crash_Facts_2014_as_of_07-30-2015.pdf
8National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Young Drivers Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. DOT HS 811 400. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812278.pdf
9National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts - Children. DOT HS 812 271. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812271
10Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. (2014). "Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2014" Retrieved from https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/DHSMVPublishedDocuments/Current_Year/Crash_Facts_2014_as_of_07-30-2015.pdf
11National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths by Type and Gender, 1975-2014. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
12Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. (2010). "Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2010" Retrieved from http://www.flhsmv.gov/hsmvdocs/CS2010.pdf
13National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts - Speeding. DOT HS 812 265. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812265
14National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Occupant Protection Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. DOT HS 811 390. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812262.pdf
15Florida Department of Transportation. (2014). June 2014 Seat Belt Use in Florida Final Report. Retrieved from www.floridaoprc.ce.ufl.edu/Document.asp?DocID=465
16National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2015). 2014 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Traffic Safety Fact Sheet. DOT HS 811 385. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812231.pdf
17Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. (2014). "Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2014" Retrieved from https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/DHSMVPublishedDocuments/Current_Year/Crash_Facts_2014_as_of_07-30-2015.pdf
18National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2016). 2014 Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 811 392. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812263.pdf


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