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Major spike in deadly car crashes in 2021 for Tampa Bay Area drivers

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Posted at 8:24 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 20:24:31-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Last year was one of the deadliest years to be on roads in the Tampa Bay Area. Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Polk counties all saw an uptick in deadly crashes in 2021.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021 U.S. roads were the deadliest in recent years. Nearly 43,000 people were killed last year, a 10.5% jump over 2020.

“Speeding is a big one and the other one is distracted driving,” said Tricia Pichette with the Florida Department of Transportation.

The spike was even greater in the Tampa Bay Area. According to data from Signal Four Analytics. Hillsborough County saw a 28% increase and in Pinellas a staggering 48% increase in deadly crashes. The Florida Department of Transportation said several factors are to blame, including the number of miles people drove in 2021 compared to the previous year.

In Polk County the number of deadly car accidents jumped from 134 to 165. “We're experiencing unprecedented growth. We’re one of the fastest growing areas in the country, let alone the state, so you’re also talking about a lot more people on the roadways,” said Pichette.

FDOT Polk County division is working on making roads safer for drivers and pedestrians by widening lanes, increased lighting and adding roundabouts.

“The numbers are in, and it proves that roundabouts cut down on head-on collisions, they cut down on side collisions,” said Pichette.

As we enter one of the deadliest holidays on our roadways AAA is reminding drivers of it’s Tow to Go program.

“It’s a service that is free for AAA members and non-members. With this service we dispatch a tow truck out to transport the would-be impaired driver and their vehicle to a safe location within a 10-mile radius, said Mark Jenkins with AAA.