Florida Among the Worst States for Motor Vehicle Deaths

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By Marcus Fernandez

Florida is a red state, which for the purposes of this article, has nothing to do with politics. According to a report by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), Florida lags behind in passing laws that prevent accidents and motor vehicle deaths.

The safety group issued a report recommending a number of safety measures that could save lives by preventing motor vehicle accidents. The report ranked states based upon their efforts to enact laws implementing the recommended safety measures, with colors used to rank a state’s record of enacting laws to make roadways safer and reduce motor vehicle deaths. 

Red states failed to, in the opinion of the organization, take appropriate measures toward improving highway safety. Although Florida has taken steps toward making it safer for motorists in the Sunshine State, it was listed as a red state for not going far enough.

Road safety by the numbers

Advocates is an organization composing of insurance companies, consumer groups, law enforcement and public health agencies, and safety groups. Its stated mission is to push for the adoption of state and federal laws to reduce motor vehicle deaths and injuries. 

Its efforts toward improving highway safety include the publication of an annual assessment of efforts made by state governments to make their roadways safer through the passage of key legislative initiatives identified by Advocates as capable of reducing accidents. The 2023 edition of the “Roadmap to Safety” reports that almost 43,000 people lost their lives in 2021, and it does not look any better for 2022. 

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 401,540 roadway accidents in the state in 2021 resulted in 3,740 people killed and nearly 300,000 injured. Preliminary data for 2022 shows crashes at 357,234 with 3066 fatalities and 227,198 injuries.

Ranking states based on their traffic laws

The report published by Advocates focuses on 16 key laws that government and private research has determined to be essential to reducing the number and severity of accidents, which in turn leads to a reduction in the number of people injured and killed.

  • Occupant protection. Having a law mandating the use of seat belts by occupants of a vehicle is not enough. States need to make violations of seat belt laws a primary offense. This would allow police officers to stop a vehicle and write a ticket when the only violation observed is the failure to use a seat belt. Another law pertaining to occupant protection requires that all riders of motorcycles wear a helmet.
  • Child passenger safety. States are encouraged to enact laws requiring rear-facing restraint systems for children under two-years-old and booster seats for older children.
  • Teen driving. GDL programs with stages before teen drivers qualify for an unrestricted license. Also, increasing the number of supervised driving hours by a licensed adult.
  • Impaired driving. Ignition interlock systems for all DUI offenders and prohibition of open containers of alcohol in all types of vehicles.
  • Distracted driving. States are encouraged to pass laws that prohibit texting while driving. GDL programs passed by states should include prohibition on all uses of cellphones, even those equipped for hands-free operation.
  • Automated speed enforcement. The report favors states with laws permitting automated speed enforcement.

Florida roads rated as “dangerous” according to the report

The most recent report from Advocates ranked the states according to the laws enacted to reduce fatal traffic accidents. Five states and the District of Columbia achieved a green or “good” rating with eight or more points. Thirty-six states with four to seven points earned a “caution” or yellow rating.

Florida was one of only nine states to earn zero to nine points for a red or “danger” rating. In fact, Florida had only two points. The following is how Florida scored in road safety:

  • Occupant protection: Zero
  • Child passenger safety: Zero
  • Teen driving: Zero
  • Impaired driving: One point 
  • Distracted driving: One point
  • Automated speed enforcement: Zero

Florida scored its points for enforcing use of front seat belts, an open container law, and passing laws restricting text messaging.


The Sunshine State obviously has a long way to go if it wants to reduce motor vehicle deaths and injuries. A Tampa personal injury attorney can help if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.