JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Traffic deaths are at a 20-year high, and transportation officials said the numbers only keep climbing.
According to Florida transportation officials, on average, eight people die and 49 people are hurt in traffic crashes across the state per day.
That’s why they’re urging people to remember the rules of the road while coming up with initiatives to keep drivers safe.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office recently reported that one of the latest crashes, off San Pablo Road, marked the 120th traffic death in Duval County this year. Officers said speed was a factor. In fact, they also said that speed is a factor in most deadly crashes.
The National Transportation Safety Administration says traffic deaths haven’t been this high in 20 years nationwide.
More than 9,500 people were killed in crashes across the country in the first three months of this year.
That’s up 7% compared to the same time last year.
“When we hear about these fatalities on the roadway, our hearts break,” said Hampton Ray with the Florida Department of Transportation. “We have an entire team dedicated to safety here at the Florida Department of Transportation.”
Ray said the agency has a statewide initiative called Target Zero. It aims to cut down the number of traffic injuries and deaths to zero.
“Really our entire message is to educate and engineer roads as best as possible,” Ray said.
The initiative includes researching how to make the roads safer by reminding drivers about following the speed limit, minimizing aggression, and avoiding distractions like using a cell phone or eating while driving.
“About 90% of crashes are the result of human error,” said Ray. “Really it’s about making sure that drivers make good decisions on the roadway and make sure everyone shares the road to get home as safe as possible.”
On a national level, the new infrastructure law that passed earlier this year includes an initiative called the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. The grant gives millions of dollars to cities and towns across the country to improve roads and educate drivers on traffic safety.