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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Nov. 14, 2014

A recent review of federal crash data has led to an inauspicious distinction for Florida: Florida leads the nation in car crash drownings. Given the vast number of different bodies of water (rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams, canals, and harbors) in Florida, it is not surprising that car crash drownings occur more often in Florida than in any other state in the United States. In fact, it is not even close; Florida leads all other states by a wide margin.

Based on a recent review of federal crash data by the Orlando Sentinel, from 2008 to 2012, 49 people drowned inside cars. The next closest state—Texas—had only 18 deaths involving car drownings, followed by Indiana (14), Louisiana (10), and Arizona (10). Furthermore, since 2003, more than 100 people have died in Florida from cars being submerged in water.

Many of these accidents occurred in South Florida. This interactive map shows the location of each accident, including the number of fatalities, occupants, time of day, and weather conditions. Florida’s top three counties for car drownings were Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade, respectively. Based on the fact that these are some of the most populated counties in Florida, it is logical to conclude that these counties would rank so highly in car-related drowning deaths.

According to Joe Santos, safety engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation in Tallahassee, the most likely reason that Florida leads the nation in car drownings is that Florida has many miles of roads abutted by some type of body of water.

How to Protect Yourself When Your Car is Sinking

While it is unlikely that you will be in a car that is sinking, it is always better to be prepared in the event you do find yourself in such a situation. There are several steps that you should immediately take to protect yourself. Experts recommend that you do not panic, “act quickly, unfasten your seatbelt, get out of the car and swim to safety.” The most important part is acting quickly because a car can fill up with water quickly—possibly in fewer than 60 seconds.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Do not try to open the door.

  • Try rolling down your window.

  • If your window electrical system is not working or you cannot manually open your window, try breaking your window. You can purchase a small car window emergency hammer tool and place it in your glove box.

  • If you cannot break a window, try breaking the back windshield with your feet.

Again, while the initial shock of a car crash could be overwhelming, it is crucial that you remain calm and act quickly. According to the national highway-safety study, more than half of car crash drownings involve cars that have flipped over.

Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or a family has been injured in a car accident, a Florida car accident attorney can help protect your rights. The car accident attorneys at Mike Walker Law have extensive experience helping victims recover compensation for their car crash injuries. Contact our Florida car accident attorneys today for a free consultation. We are located in Clearwater, Florida, and we serve clients throughout various Florida counties.