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Traffic crashes down but fatality numbers increase

By Staff | Jul 1, 2010

Traffic crashes in Lee County dropped in 2009, while traffic crash fatalities saw an uptick, according to statistics released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
There were 4,916 traffic accidents reported in Lee County in 2009, a 5.2 percent decrease compared to the 5,188 in 2008. Alcohol-related crashes also were on the decline with 617 reported last year compared to the 685 reported in 2008, a 9.9 percent decrease.
Lee reported an increase in traffic crash fatalities, according to the 2009 DHSMV’s Traffic Crash Statistics Report. There were 80 fatalities compared to 77 in 2008, a 3.6 percent raise. Alcohol-related fatalities jumped by 4 percent from 24 reported in 2008 to 25.
There were 4,574 crash-related injuries reported for the county in 2009, while there were 447 alcohol-related injuries reported. In Lee, there was a decrease in motorcyclist and bicyclist fatalities to 14 and 4, respectively, and an increase in pedestrian fatalities to 15.
According to the report, Cape Coral recorded 1,062 traffic crashes in 2009 and 109 were alcohol-related, or 10.26 percent. On a list of Florida cities with a population of 100,000 or more, the city ranked 17th out of 19 for the number of crashes per 1,000 people. It had 6.54 crashes for every 1,000.
In 2009, Cape Coral recorded nine traffic fatalities. Of the nine, three involved motorcycles, five were vehicle-related and one involved a bicyclist. According to Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the Cape police department, at least seven of the incidents involved alcohol.
There have been seven traffic fatalities in the Cape for 2010. At least two of the incidents involved alcohol, Barron reported. Of the seven, one involved a motorcycle, two were vehicle-related and two were teen bicyclists. One was a child on a skateboard and one was a garage worker hit by a passing truck.
Statewide, traffic crash fatalities decreased from 2,983 in 2008 to 2,563. According to a prepared statement from the DHSMV, 2009 was the fourth consecutive year that traffic fatalities had decreased from the prior year.
“The report shows that we are moving toward the the department’s vision of a safer Florida,” Executive Director Julie L. Jones wrote in the statement.
There were 235,778 traffic crashes investigated and reported in Florida in 2009, a 3.1 percent decrease from 2008. The State Mileage Death Rate, or the number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled, dropped to 1.30. It is the lowest rate since it has been calculated.
According to the report, alcohol-related fatalities decreased statewide between 2008 and 2009 by 14.1 percent from 1,169 to 1,004. Motorcyclist and passenger fatalities dropped by 24.4 percent from 532 to 402. Bicyclist and passenger fatalities decreased by 15.3 percent from 118 to 100.
Pedestrian fatalities declined between 2008 and 2009 by 4 percent from 502 to 482. The report indicates fatalities of teen drivers and passengers also decreased from year to year — 193 to 153 — a 20.7 percent change.
“While multiple factors influence the numbers, the declining trends are a testament to the emphasis that law enforcement agencies, safety advocates and businesses have placed on saving lives on our roadways,” Jones wrote.
There was a 1.2 percent decrease in traffic injuries statewide, and 39.2 percent of traffic fatalities and 8.5 percent of traffic crashes were alcohol-related. Of all the fatalities 18.8 percent were pedestrians, 3.9 percent were bicyclists and passengers, and 15.7 percent were motorcyclists and riders.