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Friday, August 19, 2011

Florida Ranks High Among The Deadliest Cities In America For Drivers

A recently published article by CNBC listed the 15 most dangerous cities for driving in the US. Using the "most recent motor vehicle crash data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System", the article's authors looked at cities with a population of 150,000 or more and ranked the cities based on the greatest number of vehicular deaths. The results were somewhat surprising but they also seemed to support other studies conducted over the last couple of years.

The 15 deadliest cities, ranked from bottom to top, were:

15. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
14. Birmingham, Alabama
13. Tulsa, Oklahoma
12. St. Petersburg, Florida
11. Jacksonville, Florida
10. Lubbock, Texas
9. Memphis, Tennessee
8. Jackson, Mississippi
7. Chattanooga, Tennessee
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
5. San Bernardino, California
4. Little Rock, Arkansas
3. Augusta-Richmond Co., Georgia
2. Orlando, Florida
1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The surprising results were that major cities, such as Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, and Miami that are normally associated with high volumes of traffic weren’t on the list. In fact, none of the cities listed in a 2009 study listing the top ten cities for aggressive driving and road rage made this list.

However, another study by "The Daily Beast" published in May of 2010, listed the top 100 deadliest Interstates in the US and that is where the two studies begin to merge. Most of the cities on this list are located on or near one of those deadly interstates.

Florida had the greatest proportion of the cities with a total of four on the list. Two of the cities, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville are located on either end of I-95, considered the deadliest stretch of Interstate in the nation based on the number of highway fatalities per mile. Jacksonville is also the terminus of I-10, the 57th most deadly interstate in the US. The second deadliest city, Orlando, is located astride I-4 which was listed as the third deadliest stretch of interstate in the country.

Florida is the fourth largest state in the US in terms of population but it comes in third in the overall number of traffic deaths and is second only to Texas in the number of teenage traffic fatalities. The authors of this study speculated that Florida's over-representation on the list was due to "the high proportion of New York City expats—some driving for the first time in their lives - foreigners, tourists driving in unfamiliar territory, and senior citizens, not to mention spring breakers, who may have compromised vision or reflexes."

Blaming "New York City expats" may be a little harsh. Florida has a diverse population with newly arrived citizens not only from the Northeastern US but from every country in the Caribbean basin. Tourists drive to Florida from all over the US and Canada; more than doubling Florida's permanent population every year. Tourists from other nations, unfamiliar with American driving laws and habits rent cars and try to navigate their way around to all of the tourist spots. Add to that, the number of people who include alcohol as part of their vacation experience and the total combined effect can be quite deadly.

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