TAMARAC, Fla. – In a split second, Joyce and Clarence Steele went from running errands to being rushed to the emergency room when their car was broadsided by a driver running a red light.
“I saw this car coming about 40 mph and the next thing I heard was a big ‘boom’. I said, ‘Jesus, I’m dead now.' I just couldn’t believe it,” Joyce Steele said.
Plantation accident attorney Jason Chalik said dangerous driving in South Florida is on the rise.
“All day long I get phone calls from people with different injuries from accidents,” he said. “It’s not slowing down because there are more people in the area, more tourists and it’s becoming a bigger problem.”
And it’s not just vehicles.
“We forget about bicycles, sometimes we forget about scooters. It’s people walking with people who are mobile in any number of ways,” said Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom.
In an effort to reverse the growing trend, an initiative called “Vision Zero” was launched in Broward County in 2015 with the goal of reaching zero traffic deaths in a calendar year.
“Concrete data to show a declining trend, it’s too early for that, but what we’re seeing so far is good,” Lagerbloom said.
Chalik said the best way to avoid becoming an accident victim is to drive, walk and ride defensively.
“You never want to depend on your safety with the hope that the other person is doing the right thing,” he said.
The Steele’s have physically recovered from their accident but the emotional trauma lingers.
“I just see it over and over again and I’m so scared,” said Joyce Steele.
DUI’s are the main cause of deadly accidents in Florida but weather conditions, distracted drivers and age are also key factors.
Highway safety data shows that the number of drivers over the age of 65 involved in accidents is almost double that of younger drivers.