More Car Accidents and Fewer Tickets in Florida – Who Would Have Guessed?

In South Florida, the number of crashes in Florida increased by more than 33,000 from 2012 to 2017. Yet in that same period in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties law enforcement officials issued 500,000 fewer tickets. If you received a ticket recently, then this means little to you. If you were in a crash, then it makes you wonder. If the person who hit me had received a ticket before, would they have been more careful? Maybe that driver who injured you shouldn’t have been on the road at all? Eventually you will want to know why have the number of citations issued gone down while traffic accidents have increased in South Florida?  South Florida personal injury attorneys know that the answers from authorities are vague but hardly conclusive.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Statistics

A statistical study from 2012 to 2017 reveals:

–       In Miami-Dade County, crashes increased by 27 percent while tickets issued dropped by 42 percent.

–       In Broward County, crashes rose by 32 percent, but traffic citations issued declined by 45 percent.

–       As for Palm Beach, 40 percent fewer tickets were issued as crashes increased at a rate of 57 percent.

–       Issuance of speeding tickets decreased by 14 percent in Florida; in Miami-Dade County, it dropped by 41 percent; in Broward County, it dropped by 31 percent; and in Palm Beach County, the number of speeding tickets declined 38 percent.

–       As for fatal traffic crashes, rose 28 percent statewide and 22 percent in the tri-counties of South Florida

Do More Tickets Result in Less Crashes?

A 2010 study by George Mason University’s Thomas Stratmann and Towson University’s Michael Makowsky found that more traffic tickets resulted in reduced car accidents, crashes and injuries. In many ways, it makes sense. Tickets can influence a driver’s behavior. Although a small number of people get tickets, there is a visual effect of bad drivers being ticketed – other drivers see the ticketing process and it may have a deterrent effect at that moment and perhaps, for days that follow.

In addition, as bad drivers accumulate tickets and points they can be subject to suspensions. Assuming they don’t want to take the risk of driving with a suspended license, then they will be off the road. Our roads will always be safer with less bad drivers. But that isn’t the whole story.

Reasons for Less Tickets and More Crashes

It is quite difficult to get a straight answer out of anyone responsible for the drop in traffic tickets. All will say they are committed to providing safety in the community. Some will point to educational efforts in schools and in public service announcements. Others rely on the impact of verbal warnings. But underneath the surface, you will hear about budgetary considerations and law enforcement job vacancies being part of the cause for the decrease in traffic citations.

Another reason cited is the decrease in red-light camera tickets. In fact, decreased red-light video violations account for a:

–       4 percent decline in citations statewide

–       19 percent drop in Broward

–       28 percent decrease in Palm Beach

–       Oddly, only in Miami-Dade County did the red-light camera citations rise by 2 percent.

While some of this decrease was the result of some communities placing their red-light violation systems on hold while legal challenges proceeded through the court system. But in May of 2018, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that red-light camera violation systems were, in fact, legal. Thus, we can all expect to see an increase in the use of these systems along with a corresponding increase in red-light violation citations being mailed to us.

Toll violation enforcement has also changed the landscape of citations. Whereas before citations were issued, now it has transitioned to a collection matter. Of course, anyone who tries to renew their tags with outstanding toll violations will tell you that there will be no renewal until those violations are resolved or paid.

One might wonder about the impact of Uber, UberEATS and Lyft on traffic tickets and crashes. It is true that Lyft and Uber have positively impacted the number of DUI and impaired driving accidents and tickets. As for traffic crashes and citations, the presence of these transportation network companies (TNC) have had a negligible and unmeasurable effect.

Lastly, authorities direct our attention to the increase of vehicles on the road in Florida. As of 2017, Florida had 18.2 million vehicles registered which is 2.2 million more than 2012. As the economy improves, tourism booms, traffic increases and accidents happen.

What Can We Expect?

Statistics will always be used by critics and proponents to prove a point. Therefore, all statistics must be taken with a grain of salt and an examination of the motives of the one citing those statistics. But reality usually involves economics. As a result, we can expect an increase in citations – both moving violations and red-light camera – as these produce revenues for local governments. Especially the red-light cameras which are not labor intensive. If you have any doubt, look at the monetization of our highways in the form of express lanes which is essentially a tax in disguise. The question is whether local governments will invest the revenue in law enforcement. Unfortunately, that is extremely unlikely.

As for accidents, we can also expect the numbers to increase. We have more registered vehicles than ever in Florida. In addition, we have the new gig economy which results in more drivers zipping around delivering passenger, food, and Amazon boxes. Another reason we can expect an increase in crashes is distracted driving. Specifically, the use of smart phones while driving. Drivers not only text but also engage in social media, watch videos and email. This is a growing epidemic and it will impact all of us going forward – sometimes in tragic ways.

South Florida Car Accident Lawyers

At Wolfson & Leon, our South Florida accident attorneys have served personal injury victims and survivors of wrongful death accidents since 1963. Our founder, Jerome Wolfson and his son Jonah have fought for their personal injury clients for more than five decades. Our bilingual South Florida car accident law firm always remains committed to the best interests, satisfaction and well-being of our client.

Our South Florida car accident attorneys are available at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers. Call us anytime for a free consultation or for an appointment at any of our offices. You can reach us anytime at 305-285-1115 if you have any questions about any type of accident and injury in South Florida.

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