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What do Traffic Accidents and Drowning Have in Common?

Believe it or not, auto accidents can lead to drowning deaths—and here in Florida, it happens more often than anywhere else in the country. It may seem at first that these two types of occurrences are unrelated, but considering the number of retention ponds, lakes, streams and other bodies of water that surround our roadways, it’s easy to see how with one wrong move, a driver could lose control of his or her vehicle, inadvertently steer into the water and drown. 

Drowning deaths from traffic mishaps are more common than one might assume. In fact, a recent report reveals that an auto accident results in a fatal drowning almost once every week in Florida. Nationwide, about 400 traffic-related drowning deaths occur every year. 

So, what makes Florida so deadly? Consider the following: 

  • Many of the roads here wind and curve around lakes, swamps and ponds in a way that is very unforgiving. Excessive speed or a wrong turn off the road in the dark could easily land a car in the water.
  • Tourists, seasonal residents and vacationers in Florida are bound to be less familiar with the roadways, may be driving rental cars they are not used to and are more likely to divert their eyes from the road to glance at a map or GPS device.
  • Florida has a large population of senior-aged drivers whose reflexes and reaction times may be less than acute.
  • Many roads that border or cross over bodies of water in Florida have few barriers protecting drivers from falling off — or none at all. 

A large wall was recently installed on a particular road bordering a retention pond in Celebration that had been the site of several drowning traffic accidents over the last few years. Perhaps this is the beginning of more decisive actions to prevent these tragedies in the future.

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