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The Sunshine State is seen by many outsiders as the “go to” destination.Florida is the top vacation spot in the world, with tourism bringing in close to $60 billion each year. Snowbirds from the Midwest and the north flock here to escape the cold winters, college students cram the beaches during Spring Break and families spend days touring Disney World and the numerous theme parks. But according to Sperling’s Best Places, there is a dark side to Florida – high crime, heavy traffic and heavy alcohol consumption leave residents among the most stressed in the United States.

Sperling’s looked at the 50 largest metropolitan areas, including the suburbs, by analyzing factors including commute times, unemployment, divorce rate, violent crime, suicides, property crime, alcohol consumption, sleep troubles, mental health, and the annual amount of cloudy days. Florida landed three cities in the top three, and five in the top 10 most stressful cities in the U.S. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area earned the title of “Most Stressful City.”

Does all this stress affect safety on the roadway? Just this week we posted an article about aggressive driving, and in it we noted that according to AAA, cumulative stressors often trigger aggressive drivers. When a person is already under an undue amount of pressure and he or she gets behind the wheel, seemingly minor incidents can turn into volatile and unsafe situations.

According to a 2002 study conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii, “driving is a highly dramatic activity” that is fraught with risk and unpredictability. When drivers “encounter restrictions and constrictions, preventing them from driving as they wish,” they make poor decisions and may become aggressive, leading to serious crashes. AAA attributes as much as 56 percent of all fatal vehicle crashes to at least one unsafe driving behavior generally linked to aggressive driving.

Sperling’s data also looked at alcohol consumption as a contributor to stress in cities. For alcohol consumption per month, the top 10 cities ranged from 8.7 to 14 drinks per month, with the Tampa area residents consuming the most, at 14 average drinks per month. Unfortunately, many times adult drinkers become impaired-drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nationwide, there were 10,228 fatalities involving alcohol-impaired-driving in 2011. These accidents account for 31 percent of all traffic deaths. Florida saw 794 alcohol-related highway deaths in 2010, and 12,168 alcohol-related crash injuries.

The top five most stressful cities, according to Sperling’s, are:

5. Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Michigan
4. Jacksonville, Florida
3. Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Florida
2. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada
1. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

“Frankly, I was shocked by the concentration of Florida cities clustered in the top ten,” said lead researcher Bert Sperling. However, as the data was analyzed, researchers found the residents of most of the Florida cities in the study were more likely to report feelings of stress, depression and emotional problems.

Our South Florida car accident attorneys applaud the efforts the Florida Highway Patrol has undertaken to eradicate drunk and aggressive drivers in Florida. We urge Florida drivers that are feeling stressed to consider putting off getting behind the wheel until you believe you can drive safely. For all Florida drivers, we encourage you to try to put aside stressors before taking to the highway and focus on arriving at your destination safely. And as always, please don’t drink and drive.

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, dog bite injuries, swimming pool accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.

Our law firm represents victims of car accidents across South Florida, including Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Stuart, Okeechobee, Vero Beach and Palm Beach , and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.