Many college students from across the nation flock to Florida and other warm weather destinations during spring break to take a breather from studies and enjoy the sun and fun. The mix of youthful energy and a party atmosphere, however, can be a dangerous combination and lead to serious accidents.

A new study by researchers at the University of Miami found car-crash fatalities increase significantly at popular spring break destinations in Florida and other states during  the spring break season, from the end of February through early April .

The study, “Fast Times During Spring Breaks: Are Traffic Fatalities Another Consequence?” published in the journal Economic Inquiry, found the news is bad for everyone, including residents and other visitors of spring break hot spots, not just for the students who travel there for a weeklong break.

Examining fatal wrecks at 14 spring break destinations in seven states, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, the study found:

  • Weekly death tolls in the 14 counties studied jumped 9.1 percent during spring break.
  • 16 more traffic fatalities annually in the 14 counties.
  • Car-crash deaths involving out-of-state motorists were significantly higher than for in-state drivers.
  • Fatal wrecks involving drivers under 25 years of age were more likely than deadly crashes connected with older motorists.
  • Even though spring break is usually filled with heavy drinking, no significant statistical difference could be found between fatal crashes involving impaired drivers and deadly wrecks involving non-impaired drivers.

Underscoring the spring break effect was the fact that the fatal accidents in the spring break hotspots disproportionately involved out-of-state drivers and no comparable increase in fatal accidents was reported in non-spring break counties during the same period.

Spring break is an economic boon for hotels and restaurants in Florida and other warm-weather states. Some Florida communities have struggled with how to deal with of crowds of spring breakers clogging the streets and getting rowdy.

The study encourages communities to offer spring breakers incentives to keep them from getting behind the wheel while they visit. One possibility is to provide college students with vouchers to use to take alternative transportation such as taxes or shuttle buses.

Compared to the economic losses of death and destruction associated with fatal wrecks, , transportation vouchers would be a pittance. Students could pick them up at the local Chamber of Commerce office or visitors center and avoid the disaster of devastating car crashes.

Any one injured in a car accident caused by the fault of another driver may have a legal right to seek compensation from that at-fault driver’s insurance company. It’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable Tampa personal injury attorney review the specifics of the accident and explain your legal options.