Florida's roads have never been safer. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 2009 saw the lowest number of deaths - 1.3 per 100 million miles traveled - recorded in four decades. Alcohol-related fatalities were down 14 percent; motorcycle fatalities dropped 24 percent; bicyclist deaths fell 15 percent; even 21 percent fewer teens died compared to 2008. Then there's this fact: Men accounted for 76 percent of all traffic fatalities last year, even though women make up 50 percent of Florida's licensed drivers. More men ride motorcycles and bikes, yes, but there's also this: "Males tend to take more risks and be more aggressive," said University of South Florida psychology professor Paul Spector. The state's annual traffic crash report shows just how preventable traffic deaths are. If people didn't drink and drive, if they wore their seat belts and avoided other driving mistakes, deaths would go down even more.
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The deadliest gender
In 2009, men were killed in 76 percent of traffic-related fatalities involving drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians in Florida (excluding passenger deaths).
2,073 total traffic-related deaths
1,569 men killed
504 women killed
1,119 total drivers killed
778 male drivers killed
341 female drivers killed
376 total motorcyclists killed
367 male motorcyclists killed
9 female motorcyclists killed
99 total bicyclists killed
86 male bicyclists killed
13 female bicyclists killed
479 total pedestrians killed
338 male pedestrians killed
141 female pedestrians killed
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Alcohol/drug use in fatal crashes
OF 483 drug- or alcohol-related crashes...
77 percent: alcohol use/DUI (371 of 483)
13 percent: drug use/DUI (64 of 483)
10 percent: alcohol and drug use/DUI (48 of 483)
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Drugs and crashes
Drug use in traffic crashes In 2009 drug-related traffic fatalities dropped, but drug-related injuries and crashes rose.
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Drinking and dying
39 percent (1,004 of 2,563) of traffic-related fatalities were linked to drinking.
40 percent (195 of 482) of pedestrian fatalities were linked to drinking.
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Unused safety equipment
59 percent (917 of 1,555) of drivers and passengers killed in seat belt equipped vehicles were not wearing them.
37 percent (148 of 402) of motorcyclists and their passengers killed were not wearing helmets.
88 percent (88 of 100) of bicyclists and their passengers killed were not wearing helmets.
50 percent (44 of 88) of children from birth to age 17 killed were not using child restraints or seat belts.
Holding back children
83 percent (37,760 of 45,375) of children from birth to age 17 who escaped injury in traffic crashes used child restraints/seat belts.
50 percent (44 of 88) of children from birth to age 17 who died in traffic crashes were unrestrained.
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Top contributing causes of fatal crashes*
25 percent: alcohol/drug use/DUI (483 of 1,964)
20 percent: careless driving (386 of 1,964)
10 percent: failed to yield right of way (205 of 1,964)
6 percent: exceeded safe speed (126 of 1,964)
5 percent: exceeded posted speed limit (106 of 1,964)
3 percent: drove left of center line (56 of 1,964)
3 percent: ignored traffic signal (56 of 1,964)
* Note: DUI means the driver was legally impaired. Up to three contributing causes can be attributed to a single driver.
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Teenagers and pick-up beds don't mix
Teens ages 15-19 represent 56 percent of those killed and 29 percent of those injured while riding in the back of pickup trucks in 2009.
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Don't blame it on the rain
85 percent (199,432 of 235,778) of traffic crashes took place on dry roads.
14 percent (32,573 of 235,778) of traffic crashes took place on wet roads.
0.4 percent (1,025 of 235,778) of traffic crashes took place on slippery roads.
Source: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle's Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2009.