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As tragic and concerning as the statistics are when it comes to gun related violence, those aren’t the sometimes deadly weapons to which we’re referring now.

Halfway into the year, Florida already is at nearly 75 percent of the target the state Department of Transportation set for traffic fatalities for all of 2016.

As of Tuesday, state data show 1,459 people had died so far this year on Florida highways. In 2012, the state set a highway safety target of reducing traffic fatalities 5 percent annually through 2017. That would be 1,980 by year’s end. Yet, by early July,wholesale nfl jerseys we’re already 73.6 percent of the way to reaching that 2016 target number.

The state’s 2016 traffic safety plan also looked at 2009 13 data and projected that, even if the 5 percent goal isn’t reached, the number of highway fatalities at least could be reduced year over year. Indeed, data show the number of annual highway fatalities in Florida has been on the decline yearly since 2009. Based on that recent trend, the death toll would be expected to fall to 2,287 in 2016.

However, based on the first half of 2016, Florida could see about 2,900 people die on its roads this year, ending the year over year decline.

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles statistics show 49 traffic fatalities in Collier County in 2015, up from 39 in 2014. As of Tuesday, there were 20 so far in 2016 so at the current rate the death toll will return to the 2014 total.

In Lee, the data show 95 highway deaths in 2015, an increase from 81 in 2014. At the halfway point in 2016, state records show 50 have died in traffic crashes so far this year in Lee, which means the county remains on an upward trend.

This time of year, drivers may be inclined to blame our highway safety problems on seasonal residents or tourists. The numbers, however, show it’s not an absolute to jump to such a conclusion.

Florida had about 33,200 crashes in January, compared with about 32,750 in May, which is many weeks after the supposed end of “season.” In June, there still were 27,150 traffic accidents in the state.

In Collier, accidents were occurring at a rate of about 15 per day in January through May before dropping to 10 per day in June. In Lee, it was about 35 per day in January through May before dropping to 28 per day in June.

We were encouraged during the recent Collier commission’s budget discussion to hear Sheriff Kevin Rambosk report on a crime rate down 3.1 percent in the past year, hitting a historic low since numbers were first kept in 1971.

Equally promising was Rambosk’s stated focus on addressing the number of traffic crashes, acknowledging aggressive driving is “a nationwide epidemic problem that unfortunately occurs here as well.” Another positive note: commissioners urged Rambosk to come back for more money if he needs it in the name of citizens’ safety.

Overall, however, Florida lawmakers haven’t done enough to enable traffic cops and state troopers to keep our highways safe. A Governors Highway Safety Association analysis shows that, when it comes to smartphone usage in vehicles, virtually every other state has tougher distracted driving laws than Florida.

A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study on seat belt usage ranked Florida No. 2 among states in deaths of unrestrained passengers. Yet passengers 18 and older in the back seat still don’t have to wear a seat belt by Florida law.

What ideas do those running for Florida House and Senate have to reverse this deadly trend? What will Lee and Collier candidates for sheriff do? Will commission candidates bolster sheriff’s office budgets sufficiently to address it? Are School Board candidates satisfied with driver education programs?

 

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