It was a deadly Labor Day weekend here in South Florida, claiming at least five lives – including that of a 5-year-old boy – in a series of wrecks throughout the region.

highway4-300x225Perhaps the worst part about it is this wasn’t a fluke. It’s true that accidents spike over long holiday weekends, with more people on the road and a greater propensity to drink and drive. But unfortunately, these tragic deaths were indicative of a greater trend.

According to the most recent analysis by The News-Press in Fort Myers, traffic deaths in Lee County are soaring – up more than 40 percent this year over last.

Just before the Labor Day weekend, the number of traffic deaths in Lee County was at 74. That’s up from the 52 deaths tallied in the first eight months of 2014. If we continue on this trajectory, we’ll see an estimated 110 traffic deaths in the county this year. That’s the highest its been since 2006, when it was 121. In fact, the last time that figure was even in the triple-digits was in 2007, when there were 106 traffic accident fatalities.

Statewide, traffic deaths have increased by 21 percent. So this follows on an upward trend, but the dramatic rise in Lee County is especially startling.

The majority of accidents, advocates and law enforcers say, are the result of negligence. Drivers are not using the appropriate level of care in operating their motor vehicles and they are committing easily preventable errors with tragic outcomes.

Although officers note that traffic violations may seem like “victimless” crimes, it’s impossible to know which time you’ll get away with it and which time you’ll end up killing someone.

In analyzing the outcomes of 54 fatal crashes this year (resulting in 56 deaths), it was revealed that 37 were the result of driver actions. That means, someone made a mistake. In eight of the cases, officers cited operation of a vehicle in a negligent or careless manner. These would involve situations such as inattention leading to rear-ending another vehicle or making a lane change without first glancing in their side mirrors. In addition to those, another eight cases indicated speed violations were the primary cause. This involved both exceeding the posted speed, as well as driving too fast for the existing conditions.

Meanwhile, the causes of the fatal crashes that occurred over Labor Day weekend are still under investigation. According to The Naples Daily News, one of those crashes occurred on State Road 82 in Collier County. A two-vehicle collision happened when a Fort Myers man crossed the center line and collided with a westbound vehicle. Both drivers were killed, as was a 5-year-old boy from Immokalee. Two women and a 10-year-old girl were critically injured.

In Lehigh Acres, a motorcyclist and his passenger were killed on State Road 82 near Alabama Road when the motorcyclist failed to observe a stop sign. As the bike slid into the intersection, both riders were struck by a sports utility vehicle and ejected from the bike.

A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, commenting on the recent rise in traffic deaths, urged drivers to be disciplined behind the wheel and devote all of their attention and energy to the task of driving. To do otherwise is to risk not only your own life, but those of innocents around you.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Lee County traffic deaths up 42 percent in 2015, Sept. 4, 2015, By Dan Deluca, The News-Press

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