South Florida Motor Vehicle Accidents Increase as Tickets Decrease

Sun-Sentinel report shows that the roads in South Florida are getting more dangerous for motorists; nevertheless police are issuing fewer tickets and citations than ever before.  The newspaper’s analysis compared the numbers of motor vehicle collisions and traffic tickets and citations issued to drivers in the years 2012 and 2017 and showed that were 33,821 more crashes in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties in 2017 than in 2012.  Yet inexplicably there were more than 500,000 fewer tickets and citations issued by law enforcement in the three counties during 2017.

The Report’s Discouraging Findings

In Broward County, motor vehicle accidents were up 32 percent in 2017 compared to 2012, while law enforcement wrote 45 percent fewer tickets than in 2012.  In Palm Beach County, accidents were up by more than 57 percent, while the number of tickets was down 40 percent over that same period.  This meant there were more than 10,000 additional accidents in 2012 than 2017 but 67,000 fewer tickets written by law enforcement in Palm Beach County in 2017 when compared with 2012.  Finally, in Miami-Dade County, the number of tickets written dropped 42 percent, while the number of motor vehicle accidents increased by 27 percent.  In terms of speeding tickets, the number of citations issued by law enforcement declined 41 percent in Miami-Dade, 38 percent in Palm Beach County, 31 percent in Broward, and 14 percent statewide.  However, the number of fatal motor vehicle collisions in the three counties increased 22 percent when comparing 2012 and 2017, from 513 in 2012 to 624 in 2017. Statewide, fatal motor vehicle accidents have increased 28 percent, rising from 2,258 to 2,896 over that same period.

Why the Drop in the Number of Tickets Written? 

Law enforcement officials interviewed as a part of the report identified several causes for the drop in tickets written by law enforcement in South Florida in 2012 when compared to 2017.  First, police noted they were now attempting to educate drivers on their bad habits by giving drivers written or verbal warnings instead of writing a ticket every time they pull motorists over.  In addition, most law enforcement agencies in the South Florida area are not running at full strength, as they are reporting vacancies and struggling to fill the spots of officers who retire or leave the force.  This leads to less traffic enforcement because their remaining officers are concentrated on the prevention of and response to serious crimes and responding to calls from the public.  In addition, there simply are more cars on the road today than there were even five years ago across the Sunshine State, with 18.2 million registered vehicles on Florida’s roads in 2017, an increase of 2.2 million vehicles (or 14 percent) from the 16 million registered vehicles on Florida’s roads in 2012.

Is This Drop in the Number of Tickets Written by Law Enforcement Good for The Safety of South Florida Motorists?

Academic research has shown that the greater number of tickets and resulting fines issued by a municipality’s law enforcement officers, the fewer accidents occur on that municipality’s roads and the less injuries that occur as a result of those motor vehicle accidents.  The authors of the study coming to this conclusion noted, “While tickets are given to a very small proportion of drivers, they are more likely to be given to the most reckless drivers.“  The authors further concluded that “changing their behavior would have a disproportionate effect on traffic safety.”  Therefore, and despite the efforts by local police and law enforcement personnel in South Florida to engage in more driver education rather than writing tickets, at least one academic study calls this approach into question, suggesting that law enforcement should be writing more, rather than less, traffic citations in order to reduce the number of accidents and increase auto safety on South Florida’s roads.

Contact The Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. 

Although the Sun-Sentinel’s recent report and analysis indicates a disappointing lack of action on the part of law enforcement that could perhaps be contributing to the higher number of collisions, and, in particular, fatal collisions, on South Florida roads, there are also simply more drivers on the same roads than there used to be even five years ago.  This has led to a dramatic increase in both the number of motor vehicle accidents in South Florida as well as the number of accidents involving fatalities.  Due to the fact that our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined practice representing the injured, the lawyers of Schwed, Adams & McGinley are experienced in representing motor vehicle accident victims of all types.  If you, a family member, or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation today so that we can put that experience to work for you.

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