Traffic Fatalities

New statistics show a record number of people died in traffic crashes in Florida last year. Police blame drunk driving and failing to buckle up for adding to that fatal mix.

3,179 people died in traffic crashes in Florida last year, the highest number on record. SGT Dave Folsom sees too many of them. He’s haunted by the memory of one involving a little girl who wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

SGT Dave Folsom with the Tallahassee Police Department says, “She’d had her little fingernails just painted just before the crash. They were pink, and I remember she’d just left a little party and she’s six years old, and I stopped and bought a stuffed animal and brought it to the hospital. I mean, she never saw it, but even to this day it still bothers me.”

You hear a lot about improperly installed car seats, but parents are also not belting in their older kids. Seventy percent of children ages four to 17 killed in crashes last year were not wearing seat belts. Alcohol-related fatalities also hit a new high last year with 1,096 people killed. Authorities are frustrated because their education efforts just don’t seem to be getting through to some people.

MAJ Ernesto Duarte of the Florida Highway Patrol says, “These are not just dry statistics that people are actually dying and if they were to take just a moment of time to call for someone else, or not drinking and driving or just taking an extra second to click in, we would save a lot more people each year. “

There is some good news. The death rate in Florida is now at a record-low of 1.7 deaths per 100 million miles driven, thanks in large part to safer cars, but police say even the safest car is no match for an irresponsible driver.