Anyone who lives in Florida knows it always ranks highly as one of the “sunniest” states in the U.S. Something residents of the “Sunshine State” may not know? Their home is also among the national leaders in car crashes. In 2022, Florida ranked #3, behind only Texas and California, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Preliminary data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) indicates that there were 381,156 total crashes across the state, resulting in 242,622 injuries and 3,292 deaths. The main reasons for so many injuries and fatalities? The propensity for Florida drivers to be impatient, aggressive, and drive while distracted with passengers who choose not to wear a seatbelt.
BIG Issues in Palm Beach County
In 2022, there were 24,958 car crashes in Palm Beach County, resulting in 9,951 injuries and 223 fatalities, according to FLHSMV. Palm Beach ranked fifth in the state in the number of crashes, trailing only Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Orange counties.
According to the Palm Beach Post, a 15-mile stretch along Military Trail accounted for the most car crashes in Palm Beach County in 2022. Of the fifteen intersections that recorded the most crashes in the county, five lie between Forest Hill Boulevard in Palm Springs and PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens. Together, they accounted for 417 wrecks in 2022, per Palm Beach County’s Traffic Engineering and Public Works departments. Here is a list of the top crash intersections of 2022 with the number of accidents:
- Military Trail and Forest Hill Boulevard, Palm Springs (100)
- Military Trail and PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens (91)
- Military Trail and Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach (84)
- (tie) Atlantic and Congress Avenues and Atlantic Avenue and I-95, Delray Beach (82)
- Military Trail and Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach (79)
- Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and Robbins Drive, West Palm Beach (79)
- Military Trail and North Lake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens (76)
- (tie) State Road 7 and Forest Hill Boulevard, Wellington, and Congress Avenue and 45th Street, West Palm Beach (74)
What makes Military Trail so Dangerous?
Spanning 40+ miles from Jupiter to Boca Raton, Military Trail is one of the most heavily traveled north-south roadways in Palm Beach County, making it particularly prone to accidents.
“One of the problems with it is you’ve got a lot of traffic, but you’ve also got a lot of commercial uses,” said Eric Dumbaugh, professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University. “You’ve got big box stores. You’ve got gas stations. You’ve got a lot of fast-food restaurants, and older buildings with driveways allowing direct access to the road. There is a lot of movement in and out of those driveways into the traffic stream. That confluence of movement is the real problem.”
Dumbaugh notes that many buildings along Military were built in the 1970’s – 1990’s, before design changes were made to lessen the flow of traffic to and from nearby roadways, making the movement of vehicles from the driveways of those facilities a “recipe for car crashes.”
Distracted, aggressive driving is a major cause for crashes
Despite continued efforts to make roads safer, trends show that drivers are becoming more aggressive and distracted behind the wheel. A study done in 2021 by the NHTSA showed that distracted drivers were responsible for more than 3,500 traffic fatalities nationally in 2021. “Distracted and aggressive driving are two things that can lead to more serious car crashes,” said Andrew Uhlir, Deputy Director of Programs for the Palm Beach Transportation Agency.
When will things change?
Many roadways in Palm Beach County have surpassed the vehicle capacity they were built for. A prime example is Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. Atlantic Avenue opened in 1945, when the county’s population was about 100,000. Now, approximately the same number of people live in the Delray Beach area. Another problem? Atlantic stretches west to east from State Road 7 to A1A, intersecting with the Florida Turnpike, I-95, and U.S. 1 along the way. “Atlantic Avenue is overwhelmed,” said Motasem Al-Turk, director of Palm Beach County’s traffic division. Consisting of four lanes east of the turnpike, Atlantic Avenue was built to handle 33,200 car trips per day. In 2020, that stretch of Atlantic averaged 45,400, according to county statistics. West of the turnpike, Atlantic is a two-lane road, built for 15,200 car trips per day. In 2020, it averaged 19,500.
“That shows how clearly it is over capacity now,” said Al-Turk, who said Atlantic exceeded its capacity in 2018.
Atlantic Avenue is due to get some relief, but a five-year widening plan has yet to begin. The Florida Department of Transportation will widen Atlantic to four lanes from the present two from State Road 7 to east of Lyons Road starting in 2024. Similar improvements from Lyons Road to Jog Road are slated to start in 2027, but the money needed to pay for the work has not yet been secured.
Have you been injured in a vehicle crash that was caused by a distracted or aggressive driver? The West Palm Beach car accident lawyers at GOLDLAW are here to help! If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact GOLDLAW today at 561-222-222 to schedule a COMPLIMENTARY consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.