This time of year is perfect for looking back at recent statistics and finding trends. What's been going on in the Sunshine State? What's it like being a driver there? Our 2022 Florida road safety report has those answers for you.
Reckless Driving in Florida Is on the Rise
During the pandemic in 2020, reckless driving fell by 5%. But now it's on the rise again. While in 2019 there were 5,833 cases of reckless driving in Florida, that number shot up to 6,880 cases in 2021. That's a drastic increase of 21.5% compared to the previous year.
Florida Drivers Are Taking Greater Risks
There are more stats confirming that Florida roads are getting riskier. For starters, there was a sharp increase in racing on state highways, with 1,174 drivers getting caught in the act.
Additionally, more Florida drivers were caught texting and driving. In 2021, 3,565 drivers were sanctioned for being distracted by their phones behind the wheel. If that doesn't sound like a lot, keep in mind that in 2019 there were only 2,080 recorded instances of texting and driving.
DUI Incidents Are on the Rise Again
Unfortunately, Florida has gone back to pre-pandemic levels of driving under the influence. While 2020 saw a sharp decline in DUIs, more drunk drivers hit the road in 2021. In total, 43,787 Florida drivers were caught with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08%, which is the legal limit in the state.
Yet DUI Crashes and Deaths Plummet
Surprisingly, not as many people are dying in drug- and alcohol-fueled crashes. Yes, despite DUI rates going up, fewer drivers are getting into accidents. An estimated 194 people will die in 2022 in DUI crashes, compared to 328 people who died in 2019.
More Floridians Are Buckling Up
It's not all doom and gloom: more Florida drivers and passengers are buckling up. Authorities issued a total of 73,735 seat belt violations in 2021. If that still sounds like a lot, it's because it is. But it's a huge improvement from 2019 when the total number of safety belt violations was over 97,000. Since Florida roads are becoming more dangerous, at least it's a good thing that more people are wearing safety belts.
Overall, Traffic Deaths Are Finally Down
2021 was a really terrible year for road safety across the country, and Florida was no exception. There were more crashes and more deaths in 2021 than in previous years. Fortunately, 2022 wasn't quite as deadly.
By the end of 2022, there will have been an estimated 3,016 fatal crashes and a total of 3,238 deaths. That is still a lot, even compared to pre-pandemic years, and there's a lot of work to do. But at least it's a 13.4% drop in fatalities.
Still, Pedestrians Face Grave Danger
Pedestrian deaths have been mounting in the Sunshine State. In 2022, there were an estimated 9,584 pedestrian crashes, where a total of 707 people died. That's less than in 2021 when 833 people died in Florida, but still high enough to make Florida the 4th most dangerous state for pedestrians.
Worse still, hit-and-run stats across the state are alarmingly high. In 2021, there were 109,646 cases of hit-and-runs — a 19% increase compared to 2020. And while 2022 was slightly better (with an estimated 101,526 recorded cases), hit-and-run crashes are still happening at much greater rates than pre-pandemic.
Welcome 2023 as a Better, Safer Driver
There's a lot you can learn from experience behind the wheel. But that usually means putting yourself at risk to learn valuable lessons. Fortunately, there are other ways of becoming a better driver. For example, you can take a defensive driving course to learn what to do in dangerous situations. The lessons are self-paced and fully online, so they'll work with your schedule this coming year.