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Tampa Has One of the Highest Rates of Fatal Crashes in the Country

Tampa, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study on fatal car crashes around the country in 2012, and Tampa did not fare well in the results. According to the Tampa Tribune, the rate of fatal car accidents in Tampa’s metropolitan area is one of the highest in the entire country. Researchers claimed that the rate for the rest of the state was fairly high, as well.

City-Data lists fatal car crashes and traffic accident stats for the city of Tampa as of 2011, and its upward trend continues to this day. The CDC released findings this past week of rates from 2009, and officials reported that during that year, there were 12.6 deaths per every 100,000 people in the Tampa area. For comparison, the national rate was 11.1 deaths per every 100,000 people; however, the state of Florida tips the scale at 13.1 deaths per 100,000.

There are a number of reasons why the rate of fatal car accidents is so high in both the city and state, including overall population size and crowded roads, but local officials know drivers ultimately bear most of the blame. According to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, the majority of traffic accidents are caused by driver error, inattention, carelessness or reckless, negligent or illegal behavior, like aggressive driving or driving while under the influence of alcohol.

A large number of major highways also converge in Tampa, and officials believe that also contributes to the high number of traffic accidents. Interstate 275, Interstate 4, U.S. 301 and Interstate 75 all converge in Tampa, and 17 million people visit the city every single year. Considering Tampa’s population density, not to mention traffic patterns and overcrowded streets, few officials are surprised at the high rate of traffic accidents.

Tampa is not the only city in Florida with a high rate of fatal traffic accidents, though. According to the same CDC report, the Jacksonville area has the highest fatal crash rate in the entire state, with 13.3 deaths per every 100,000 Florida residents. The Miami, Pompano Beach, Ft. Lauderdale area has 11.1 deaths per every 100,000 residents, and the Orlando, Kissimmee area has 11.3 deaths per 100,000.

For national comparison, the New York area has just 5.1 deaths per 100,000 residents, and the Los Angeles area has 6.6 deaths. The Birmingham-Hoover area comes in with the highest rate for both the country and the state of Alabama, with 15.3 deaths per every 100,000 residents. After assessing all of the data, officials admit that Tampa is not the only problem when it comes to a high rate of fatal traffic accidents.

Because Florida is a major tourist destination, it’s not surprising that it falls on the higher side of traffic accidents, even when compared to Los Angeles or New York. The state has a high population of retirees, which adds to the traffic density when coupled with families visiting the many beaches and theme parks throughout the state. Crashes frequently occur on or near ramps for the interstates, and drivers running red lights also contribute to the high death rate, which indicates that both drivers and city planners can help reverse the trend.