By Sammi Cohen
Although U.S. roads see more than 5,891,000 motor vehicle accidents each year, that doesn’t mean all states are equally as dangerous. And while Florida might not have the worst driving conditions in the nation, surveys suggest that the Sunshine State is plenty dangerous for drivers.
According to a recent WalletHub survey, Florida is neither the best nor the worst state to drive in. When analysts compared 31 factors including gas prices, road conditions, and rush hour traffic to discover the top and bottom states for driving, Florida was ranked smack dab in the middle at number 27 out of 50. Costs of ownership and maintenance, as well as poor infrastructure and rush hour traffic, could have brought Florida’s ranking down. But driver access to vehicles and maintenance was rated as third nationwide, allowing the state to have a rather sunny outlook for drivers here.
That said, it’s not all good news, especially in terms of driver safety. Even though traffic has been down due to the pandemic, a nationwide survey conducted by AutoInsuranceQuote.com found that Florida came in ninth in its list of “10 States With the Most Fatal Car Accidents.” From 2016 to 2018, Florida had 14.97 fatal crashes per 100,000 residents. These dismal figures are backed up by an annual report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which showed that Florida had 3,183 traffic fatalities in 2019 and cost the state $10.75 billion. And since roads were a lot emptier at the start of 2020, causing many streets to unofficially transform into race tracks, experts believe it’s likely that those numbers could stay the same or even increase once newer data becomes available. Speeding is the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents nationwide, and while this isn’t a problem unique to Florida, the pleasant year-round weather could make it more likely for drivers here to take risks on the road.
Of course, it’s also important to factor in alcohol-related crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are roughly 839 traffic accident deaths each year in Florida that are related to alcohol consumption. Nationwide, 1.9% of people report they’ve driven under the influence of alcohol — but in Florida, the percentage is 2.1%. Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the U.S., and because Florida bars and restaurants have often remained open in some capacity throughout the pandemic, it’s not likely that drunk driving has been curbed significantly over the past year.
It’s clear that Florida may not be the worst place to drive by far. But that doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and rainbows for drivers here. Despite the pleasant weather, there are plenty of dangers on our local roadways to watch out for.