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Traffic fatalities lowest in 3 decades

MANATEE -- In 2010, the Sunshine State had its lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1978, despite the state population nearly doubling over the same time period, the Florida Highway Patrol reports.

There were 2,430 traffic-related deaths last year in Florida, compared to 2,563 in 2009, according to a release. That’s a 5.2 percent drop, and figures show crash fatalities fell for a fifth straight year.

Miami-Dade County led the state in the number of fatal accidents with 244 deaths in 2010. Liberty County had the fewest with just one.

Manatee County had 45 fatal accidents last year and in Sarasota had 43, the release stated.

“We definitely credit increased enforcement, public education and seat-belt laws,” said Lt. Chris Miller.

He also noted that drivers not going as fast is playing a role, as is the economy; people aren’t driving as often because of increased gas prices, he said.

Miller said he is happy to see the numbers drop and that it is “another step in the right direction.”

“We still have a lot to go, but this is definitely an accomplishment,” he said.

Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of people between the ages of 5 and 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Unfortunately, we know all too well the devastating impact that even a single fatality resulting from a careless, inattentive or impaired driver can have on a family and community,” Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles executive director Julie L. Jones said in a media release.

Miller said an ideal preventative measure drivers can take is to register in the state’s Emergency Contact Information system at the FDHSMV website.

Drivers can leave an emergency contact number that law enforcement can look up via a license number to contact loved ones in case of an accident and/or a fatality.