Saturday, September 17, 2011

FDOT’s recent analysis of Florida counties’ highway safety record

Editor's Note: There are many ways to measure, analyze and compare highway safety statistics. This post summarizes the recent FDOT report that compares Florida county and city highway safety performance over the past 5 years. In reviewing these results it's important to understand several things:
1. Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians and cyclists so that a relatively good ranking within Florida does not mean that the jurisdiction is very safe relative to other similar jurisdictions in other states.
2. Given the wide variation in county size, population density, and character (urban, suburban, rural), analysis by county is not the most meaningful measure. Most national comparative analysis is done by Metro area (the Census' Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA).
For example, in the 2011 national Dangerous by Design report (dealing with pedestrian fatalities over the past 10 years), Lee County ranked 17th (out of 67 counties) highest pedestrian fatality rate, but when measured by Metro area, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area (which is the same as Lee County in our case)had the 5th highest fatality rate (per 100,000 population) of the 20 major metro areas in the state.

3.Most national analysis is done using fatality numbers since reporting on fatalities is more standard across states than injury reporting. The FDOT report merges fatalities and injuries together.

Bottomline: It's important to put this report into the larger perspective and not reach a faulty conclusion. Darla

Highlights from FDOT report:
Each year the Florida DOT releases a ranking of each county and city on where they stand on highway safety. Categories measured include: Total Fatalities and Injuries, Alcohol Related, Bicycle, Motorcycle, and Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries, Speed Related, Seat Belt, Teen and Older Drivers, and Aggressive Driving.

Lee County is grouped with the largest 23 counties. In the FDOT matrix, higher number ranking indicates fewer crashes per person or mile-of-travel than the lower number ranking. Lee County ranks in the safest quartile for Bicycle Crashes, Pedestrian Crashes, Motorcycle Crashes, Speed Related Crashes, Teen Driver Crashes, and Total Fatal and Injury Crashes.

Lee County is ranked 18th out of 23 (with 23 being the best and 1 being the worst) in terms of the best county performance on total fatalities & injuries. In terms of bicycle fatalities and injuries, Lee County ranks 17th (out of 23), and 17th in terms of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Compared to 2009, Lee County’s ranking slipped one place for bicycle safety but improved by 2 places for pedestrian safety.

So, while Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists, at least Lee County’s standing among the counties has improved and is in the top tier of Florida counties of its size.

In looking at the data on cities within Lee County, Cape Coral is ranked with the 31 cities with populations of 75,000 or greater. Cape Coral ranks 23rd out of 31 cities (with 31 being the best and 1 being the worst) for bicycle fatalities and injuries and ranked 28th on pedestrian fatalities and injuries, making them in the safest quartile for cities their size.

Both Bonita Springs and Fort Myers are ranked as part of the 93 cities with populations 15,000-75,000. While Bonita Springs scores in the safest quartile for both bicycle and pedestrian safety (70 and 77 respectively), the City of Fort Myers scores in the lowest quartile on pedestrian safety (only 13th out of 93), and just barely above that in bicycle safety (28 out of 93). Clearly, the City of Fort Myers is the most unsafe part of Lee County for both pedestrians and bicyclists.

Click here for the FDOT matrix of the ranking of all counties and cities.

Thanks to Steve Jansen and Mike Tisch at LeeDOT for bringing this data to our attention.

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