Last year was a bad year for a lot of people. And now that the numbers of traffic fatalities for 2021 are getting clear, the increase in bad and dangerous driving that many of us have felt and experienced on our roads is confirmed in the fatality statistics. In Florida, a record number of overall traffic fatalities (about 20% more than the 2015-2019 average), a record number of pedestrians run over (838, a 33% increase over the 2015-2019 average), and a record number of cyclists were killed in 2021 on Florida roads.
This seems to be part of a national trend, as laid out in a recent NYTimes article "Pedestrian Deaths Spike in U.S. as Reckless Driving Surges
", or a Washington Times piece from early February "Traffic Deaths jumped 12 percent through last fall, continuing pandemic surge, new data show
In Florida, a previous peak was reached in 2005, when 3533 people died. It then went down to 2400-2500 in 2010-2013, after which smartphones contributed to a rise to 3200-3300 in the 216-2019 time period.
With 2 cyclists killed in Leon County, and 2 in Wakulla county, our area has also seen more cyclists killed in 2021 than ever before. It is vital to stop this upward trend.
One thing we can do is to drive safely ourselves when we are behind the wheel. We have all become too complacent, as so few people are keeping to the rules of traffic. Everybody just follows the flow, and ignores the rules that are put in place to keep road users safe, because everybody else is doing it. We don't have to do that. We can use our turn signals every time we make a turn or change lanes. We can always come to a full stop at a red light before turning right. We can keep to the speed limit or vow not to exceed it by more than 5 mph. We can stop for pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. We can turn our phones off.
Another thing we can do is to ask for more traffic enforcement. Already before covid the number of traffic tickets was down considerably, and it went down even further during the epidemic.