Effective April 3rd of 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Florida shut down to weather the storm brought about by the spread of COVID-19. Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91 just two days earlier on April 1, 2020.
We wanted to know how much the shutdown reduced traffic in South Florida. Since there are about 0.6 registered vehicles in Florida per person, the amount of traffic on roads in South Florida is a good proxy to gauge how well Floridians adhered to the Shut Down Order.
We cannot get accurate numbers of the amount of vehicles on the road but we can look at the amount of traffic crashes reported during the shutdown to get an idea of the magnitude of the reduced activity.
So we sent public records requests to both the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the Broward County Sheriff's Office requesting the number of reported traffic accidents in their jurisdictions from January 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020.
Here is a summary of what we learned:
Traffic accidents in Broward County dropped by 61% during April of 2020 compared to April of 2019.
Palm Beach County traffic accidents also saw a 61% drop in April of this year compared to April last year.
What is most surprising is that both Counties saw almost identical drops in the amount of traffic accidents.
The data is based on each county's respective jurisdiction. These figures do not include every traffic accident in either County. The data provided by each Sheriff's Office only includes those reported accidents in their jurisdictions and they do not include the amount of unreported accidents or accidents occurring in municipalities that have maintain their own law enforcement agencies. That said, the sample sizes are large enough that we can be confident in concluding that the relative decrease in traffic accidents across Palm Beach County and Broward County dropped by at least 60% in April of 2020 compared to April of 2019.