The figures are shocking.
About 10 people die every week in the District Seven region of the Florida Department of Transportation from traffic-related crashes, said David Gwynn, the district secretary.
“Of course, safety is always our No. 1 priority,” Gwynn said.
“We have too many people die on our roads every year,” Gwynn said, during remarks at a luncheon meeting presented by the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.
It’s common to hear reports about tragedies that occur elsewhere, Gwynn said.
But he impressed upon the crowd the importance of taking action to reduce deaths here.
“Think about it: 10 people a week,” he said.
“Last year, we had a 17% decrease in the number of fatalities in our district, which was a good thing.
“Unfortunately, during the pandemic, it (the number of fatalities) actually went up,” he said.
Even though traffic went down, speed went up, he explained.
“Speed kills. A lot of the crashes that were occurring were higher speed,” he said.
Also, there’s been an increase in motorcycle fatalities.
“Unfortunately, a motorcyclist doesn’t have a whole lot of protection, even if they are wearing a helmet. So, we ask people, ‘Keep an eye out.’ Make sure that you’re looking for motorcyclists,” he said.
He also urged the crowd to keep an eye out for pedestrians and bicyclists, too.
Distracted and impaired drivers also are a problem, Gwynn said.
Insurance company apps can encourage safer driving, and provide a premium discount, he said.
There are ways to avoid impaired driving, too, he said.
“Get an Uber if you’ve been having a few drinks and you’ve got to get home,” Gwynn suggested.
There’s also a simple and effective way to reduce traffic-related fatalities, the district secretary said.
“Wear your seatbelt.
“Over half of the people that die in a car crash — not if you get hit while you are walking or biking or riding a motorcycle — if you’re in a car and you die, there’s over 50% chance that you weren’t wearing your seatbelt,” Gwynn said.
“Younger people are the biggest offender. Remind them: ‘Wear your seatbelt.’”
Published March 22, 2023