Information on Citrus County Road Accidents in 2018
In the first five months of 2018, Citrus County, Florida has seen an increase in total road accidents over the first five months of 2017. There have been a total of 757 crashes since the new year, an increase of 21 crashes over the same period in 2017. According to the Citrus County Chronicle’s January 20, 2018 article titled, “Crash Statistics on the Rise” this trend is not new. In fact, this alarming progression has continued for the past five years, each year representing a gradual increase in the number of accidents, which, in many cases, are fatal.
From 2012 to 2017, there were 147 fatalities due to traffic accidents in Citrus County. In 2018, there have already been twelve fatalities on those same roads. In addition to the loss of life, non-fatality injury and property damage is also a growing concern due to the increase in crashes for both residents of Citrus County and the visitors to the area. Within Citrus County, 48 percent of all crashes involved non-fatal injury, and 50 percent of all crashes reported property damage. Throughout most years, the distribution of injury, property damage, and fatality crashes have remained fairly consistent.
Accidents in Citrus County follow certain patterns. Two of the most notable are that the majority of crashes occur during daylight hours, in clear to fair weather conditions. The increase in crashes can be attributed to a number of different factors. Increased population, increased tourism, distractions while driving, and seasonal residency fluctuations can all contribute to the problems.
The United States Census Bureau estimates a population increase in Citrus County of 3.1 percent between 2010 and 2017. Additionally, the number of residents increases over the winter months, peaking from November through March, according to studies conducted by University of Florida researcher Janet Galvez in her report titled, “The Florida Elusive Snowbird.” Unsurprisingly, every year there is an increase in crashes during the winter months. This could simply be attributed to the increased population at those times of the year, or it could also point to the age of the driver causing the crash, which also remains consistent across years.
From 2011 through 2018, the percentage of drivers over the age of 65 who cause crashes averages around 20 percent. This is larger than any other age demographic. Through the years, drivers in every other age group only represent between three and nine percent of the total crashes. Seniors over the age of 65 also make up approximately 36 percent of the population of Citrus County. However, people between 18 and 65 account for only 45.5 percent of the population but have accounted for just over 68 percent of the crashes so far in 2018.
Days of the week seem to have no bearing on crashes, with each day of the week representing 12 to 17 percent of the reported crashes. Other years also report similar distributions, with a slightly lower likelihood of a crash occurring on a Sunday, and a slightly higher likelihood of a crash occurring on a Friday as the only noticeable trends based on the day of the week.
According to the Chronicle article, local law enforcement notes that an increase in population is not likely the only contributing factor in the increase in crashes. Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Captain Dave Vincent says he notices that people are more distracted drivers. The increase of smart devices in cars has changed the way people pay attention to the road, in his view. He notes that it’s very difficult to curb the use of smartphones while driving, because currently, texting a driving is only a secondary offense in Florida, meaning it cannot be the primary reason behind a traffic stop. Vincent also notes that it is very difficult to prove that texting and driving is the cause of the problems they have been facing.
Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Gaskins also notes that there has been an increase in the state’s population, which leads to more people driving through Citrus County, even if they are not living there or visiting. Additionally, Citrus County has seen an increase in its tourism industry, bringing people into the county that may not have visited previously. Citrus County has attempted to face these challenges with forward-thinking campaigns such as, “Just Drive, Citrus!” which has been championed by Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast. The campaign aims to get drivers to stop all extracurricular activities in their cars, and simply focus on the task of driving without distractions. They even launched a social media campaign using #JustDriveCitrus and promoting safety information for motorists on multiple social media platforms. The effort also includes local message boards along the roads carrying similar messages.
Crashes continue to increase in Citrus County, but with some hard work and dedication, perhaps the trend can be reversed.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, our car accident lawyers have served injury victims in Citrus County throughout Florida for more than 30 years. We have primary offices located in Tampa and Clearwater, as well as satellite offices located throughout the region.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, we may be able to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.