Where is the danger of being killed in a DUI crash highest in Florida?
You should avoid driving in these cities: Destin, Sarasota, Key West and Key Largo are among the deadliest cities for drunk driving fatalities.
The good news is that you’re at much less risk in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. And Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, Palmetto Bay, Florida City, Opa-locka and Sunny Isles Beach are among the safest cities.
A report on DUI deaths in the Sunshine State found a 6 percent decrease from 2012 to 2017 and ranked Miami-Dade and Broward counties as two of the least risky places to be on the road.
Research conducted by ValuePenguin, a consumer information and personal finance company, showed where DUI deaths are most frequent and least frequent and also measured rates of increasing danger and improvement in 67 Florida counties and 135 Florida cities.
There were 515 DUI-related fatalities in Florida in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Sarasota was the deadliest large city, with an average of 12.2 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents per year from 2015 through 2017, about twice as many as No. 2 Lakeland and No. 3 Jacksonville.
By contrast, Miami ranked far down the list at 105 with a rate of .25 deaths per 100,000 residents and Fort Lauderdale was ranked 102nd, with a death rate of .40. In the county rankings, Miami-Dade was second to last at No. 66 and Broward was No. 65. Gulf County, which had no DUI deaths in the three-year period, was last.
The most dangerous place overall was the Panhandle beach town of Destin (13.54 fatalities per 100,000 population), where the rate is six times higher than the state average. The most dangerous county was Hamilton (20.27).
“We wanted to highlight the disparities and where DUIs are high compared to places where drivers are being more responsible,” said Matt Timmons, an insurance analyst for ValuePenguin.
The study found that DUI deaths are far more common in rural counties and small cities. A person who lives in Hamilton County (population 14,799), located in north central Florida on the border with Georgia, is 21 times more likely to be killed in a DUI crash than a Miami-Dade resident (population 2.5 million). All 10 of the most dangerous counties had populations under 75,000 and the top four had populations of 35,000 or less. Dixie and Baker counties were ranked behind Hamilton in the top three.
“The deaths occurred more often in places with less density, where you may have to drive farther and you may drive at faster speeds,” Timmons said. “In large cities, we’re seeing increasing incidences of car-hailing service use. If you’re in Miami, maybe you’re driving five miles at 20 mph. But if you’re in rural Florida, maybe you’re driving 10 miles at 75 mph.”
Timmons found a slightly different pattern in the state of New York, where cities in Westchester and Long Island had high rates, with Southampton the most dangerous and New York City among the least dangerous “because everybody takes the subway and cabs, and, like me, hardly anybody owns a car.” There were 206 DUI-related deaths in New York in 2017, less than half the number in Florida.
“Southampton is a seasonal beach resort town and the outsized number of deaths could be due to the large number of tourists,” Timmons said. “I expected more deaths in Miami and Orlando because of the high levels of tourism.”
Boca Raton, at No. 8, was the only large South Florida city ranked in the top 10 deadliest, while Key West ranked No. 1 among mid-sized cities and Key Largo ranked No. 10 among small cities.
Sarasota, Lakeland, Lauderhill and Sanford saw their DUI fatality rates increase the most from 2012 to 2017..
Plantation, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Largo and Port Orange saw reduction in fatal DUIs.