Florida has rolled out an aggressive new campaign targeted at decreasing the number of traffic deaths in the state, which have steadily been rising since 2014.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) announced in mid-January the launch of the Florida Highway Patrol’s “Arrive Alive” campaign to curb Florida’s rising traffic fatalities.
“Due to its geography, increasing population and thriving tourism industry, the state of Florida consistently ranks as one of the highest traffic fatality states in the nation,” FDHSMV said in a statement. “Arrive Alive is the first statewide data-driven traffic safety initiative that that unifies all of Florida’s public safety agencies and partners, leveraging a longstanding tradition of collaboration.”
Statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol show a jump in the state’s traffic deaths in 2016 with 3,062 traffic fatalities, up from 2,942 in 2015 and 2,497 in 2014. Through Jan. 30 of this year, there have already been 143 traffic fatalities.
Florida isn’t the only sate seeing traffic fatality increases. Traffic fatalities nationwide rose 7.2 percent between 2014 and 2015, the largest uptick in nearly 50 years, according to a report released Jan. 31 by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates). The group says preliminary data also shows an 8 percent increase through the first nine months of 2016 over the same time period in 2015.
Still, Advocates “2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws” identified Florida as one of the worst states when it comes to its number of laws addressing safety on the roads. Advocates rates and recommends 15 laws that it calls “optimal” based on its identified data and research. Some of the optimal laws include: primary enforcement of seat belt use of all passengers, all-rider motorcycle helmet laws, booster seat law, graduated driver licensing for teen drivers, impaired driving, and all-driver text messaging restriction.
The report says Florida is “dangerously behind in the adoption of Advocates optimal laws.”
The Advocates report says Florida is missing a rear primary enforcement seat belt law, all rider-motorcycle helmet law, booster seat law, five of the seven teen driving provisions it recommends, an ignition interlock law, and an all-driver text messaging restriction.
While Florida’s Arrive Alive campaign doesn’t push for the enacting of new road safety laws, FHP and partnering agencies’ will focus on law enforcement presence, education and/or engineering efforts in locations where fatal and serious bodily injury crashes are most frequent, FDHSMV said. These locations, or “hot spots” as the campaign calls them, are identified using Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) and consistent statewide messaging.
“The Arrive Alive initiative will incorporate law enforcement presence, media outreach and road safety assessments in high crash and high crime areas through a strategic and data driven approach. This approach will be shared with partners and will guide all activity throughout the initiative to ensure resources are targeted in the appropriate areas,” FDHSMV’s statement says.
The campaign is a partnership between various highway safety, law enforcement and engineering entities including the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Transportation Highway Safety Administration and other public safety partners.
“This collaborative initiative is expected to decrease serious bodily injury crashes and fatalities ultimately helping to ensure all Florida residents and visitors Arrive Alive,” the statement says.
Florida Highway Patrol Troop leaders and officers are rolling out the campaign around the state through press conferences. So far press conferences have been held in Tampa, Orlando, Bradenton, Miami, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach. Additional press conferences are planned in Tallahassee, Pensacola, Panama City and Lake City.