News-Press, by Michael Braun, Jan. 23, 2017
The carnage on Florida's roads has gotten so bad, the Florida Highway Patrol has revived a program it started 46 years ago.
Florida Highway Patrol officers and representatives from a number of Lee and Collier county police agencies, schools and hospitals announced the renewal of the Arrive Alive campaign on Monday.
|(Photo: Michael Braun/The News-Press)|
"In 2015, our serious injury crashes increased by 3 percent and our fatality crashes jumped by 17.7 percent," said FHP, Major John F. Baumann, commander of SWFL's Troop F.
Lee County roads recorded more than a 10 percent rise in fatalities in 2016 with 108 traffic deaths reported, the highest number since 2006 when 121 were killed.
FHP will focus on more than just writing tickets. Besides enforcement it will educate, as well as using data to pinpoint roads and intersections where fatal crashes happen, Baumann said. The state will make possible fixes to make the roads safer.
The main roads being targeted in Lee County are U.S. 41, State Road 82 and I-75, said Lt. Greg Bueno, a spokesman for the FHP.
"We will put our focus on these areas," he said.
Florida had been experiencing consistent decreases in highway fatality rates for close to 20 years, with a low of 1.24 fatalities per million vehicle miles traveled in 2014.
Population growth, lower gas prices and more cars on the road were cited for the increase, along with distracted driving.
Jay Anderson, a local safe driver authority, was among representatives from a handful of Lee and Collier county agencies who helped launch the renewal of the Florida Highway Patrol's Arrive Alive campaign. A double-digit rise in statewide fatal cashes was cited for the renewal effort.
"Lead by example," Baumann said, and encouraged parents to talk to children and employers to talk with workers about problems associated with the use of cell phones and other devices while driving.
Ken Dobson from Lee County Schools warned about careless driving. He cited a recent special one-day study showing that 334 drivers illegally passed school buses in the county.
"These are buses with red flashing lights and stop arms down," he said. "We implore drivers to be more careful."
"Ultimately, the person behind the wheel or handlebars is supposed to be in control of the safe operation of the vehicle," said Jay Anderson of the Stephen Emerson Driving School of Fort Myers and executive director of Stay Alive ... Just Drive Inc. "Safe driving is no accident."
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Statewide road fatalities
Source: Florida Highway Patrol
Lee County fatalities