109 Fatal Crashes in Lee County for 2016

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Another year has come and gone, and there are a lot of people who are saying ‘good riddance’ to 2016, and all the turmoil that came with it. For drivers on the roads of Southwest Florida, getting to your destination alive was a major challenge, with 109 people losing their lives in traffic crashes.

There haven’t been more than 100 traffic fatalities here since 2007. It only takes one trip to just about anywhere around Lee County to see how dangerous our roads are, and the shocking number of drivers who just don’t give a damn about any driving laws or road safety habits, or about any other driver around them. The alarming number of stupid, bonehead moves by people on the roads is the real reason behind last year’s 10% increase in local traffic fatalities.

Local law enforcement, along with a number of local safe driving, pedestrian and bicycle safety advocates like Stay Alive, Just Drive and BikeWalkLee point out that there will always be a need to keep pushing their message, and continue a vigilant advocacy for safer driving in Lee County. As Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Greg Bueno points out in this Fort Myers News-Press article, “there is a lot of room for improvement” when it comes to using more caution on our roads.

2017 New Year’s Resolution: Drive Smarter

As personal injury lawyers who deal with serious car and motorcycle crash victims every day, we see the unnecessary devastation caused by making bad driving decisions. Our clients hire us because of some careless and negligent act of someone else, and their lives have been turned upside down through absolutely no fault of their own. In the majority of cases, we represent people who have been involved in a crash caused by:

  • Distracted Driving
  • Excessive Speed
  • Violating Another’s Right-of-Way
  • Careless Driving
  • Failure to Maintain their own Lane

We’ve written many times previously about the dangers of texting or using an electronic device while driving, but the facts point to an increase in that terrible driving habit. People say they don’t do it, but the numbers say otherwise. As of right now, the law in Florida says that a driver can only be cited for texting while driving as a ‘secondary offense’, meaning you first must be pulled over for some other apparent traffic infraction or violation. There is currently an effort to change the law so that law enforcement can pull you over and issue a ticket involving a much higher fine – you can read more about that here. We think that would be a big help in deterring the number of distracted driving infractions.

In California, the arrival of 2017 brought along new, tougher laws and penalties for using your phone while driving. As of this month, it is now illegal to be operating a phone or tablet for any reason while you’re behind the wheel, (unless you’re using a hands-free or Bluetooth device), whether you’re looking for an address on Google Maps or writing a text to your kid. We also believe tougher laws like those would help reduce the number of car and motorcycle crashes in Florida.

So if you are the type who believes in making New Year’s Resolutions, why not consider some, if not all, of these:

Slow Down – Just plan to leave 15 minutes earlier to get where you’re going. You’ll feel less stressed out on the road, and reduce the temptation of speeding to get where you’re going.

Pay Attention – Turn your phone off – nothing is that urgent that it can’t wait until you can safely use it. While you’re at it, put down the burger, make up and other distractions, and keep your focus on your driving.

Look Around – So many crashes are caused because one driver simply did not see another one. Drivers often miss seeing oncoming motorcycles, and end up turning directly into their path. Drivers make sudden and erratic lane changes without adequately checking for other vehicles in the adjacent lanes.

Relax – Too many drivers have absolutely no patience while they’re behind the wheel, and figure everybody else needs to get out of the way. Racing to get through that yellow traffic light, tailgating, passing aggressively and other bad driving choices are what lead to serious crashes. You’re not the only one on the road – stop driving like you are.

Obey Traffic Laws – Many crashes are caused by not obeying Florida’s traffic laws – even the most obvious ones. Stop signs and traffic control lights are there for a reason, and despite what you see day in and day out, they apply to everyone. Too many drivers figure if there are no other cars at an intersection, it’s OK to just slowly cruise through a stop sign, or ‘almost’ come to a stop on a red light turn.

Clichéd, But True: If We All Just Tried It…

Sometimes, the most seemingly obvious and simplest methods to instigate change are the most often overlooked. And while it’s easy to assume that ‘the other guy’ will be using better driving habits than you so you don’t have to, that’s a recipe for disaster.

If everyone made a concerted effort this year to adopt smarter, safer driving habits, 2017 may show a decrease in the number of deaths on Lee County’s roadways. Especially now, there are so many more drivers on the road in Southwest Florida, with seasonal visitors and part-time Snowbirds trying to all share the road. If it seems worse each year, that’s because it is – more people are moving here, and more visitors are in a rental car, trying to find Fort Myers Beach. It’s easy to become frustrated when all you’re trying to do is make it home from work in a reasonable amount of time, which is the reason for the increase in the number of road rage incidents.

To make things that much worse, we now live in a world that has changed drastically in the past decade. We really have no idea what is going through the mind – if anything – of the person in the car next to you. If you cut someone off on the road, whether knowingly or unintentionally, there could be serious consequences. They may have a gun or carry a baseball bat under their car seat, and you could wind up on the receiving end.

We love living in Southwest Florida, even with all the dangers out there on the road. If we all do our part to drive smarter in 2017, we can each know that we’re making the effort to reduce the number of fatal crashes on our roads, and make sure we all arrive at our destinations alive.

The personal injury attorneys at Goldberg Noone, LLC, have been representing the victims of serious motor vehicle crashes throughout Southwest Florida for 16 years, and our attorneys have a combined 80-plus years of legal experience. If you or someone you care about has been hurt by the negligent actions of someone else, we invite you to call us at 239-461-5508, or simply fill out this easy form, and an attorney will reach out to you immediately. There is never a charge for speaking to us and getting real answers to your legal questions.