SWFL traffic deaths on the rise for third straight year

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Scene of a traffic crash in SWFL. Credit: WINK News

The number of traffic deaths is set to rise for the third year in a row, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety.

More people have been out on the roads than they were during a pandemic-ridden year, but that can’t be the only thing causing this; these numbers have not just been increasing since last year, they’ve been increasing since 2019. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, it also has to do with summertime travel having increased, too.

Some Southwest Florida residents think it has to do with more people moving to the area from bigger cities where aggressive driving is more common. Mayor Kevin Anderson points to the fact that 87% of the people who work in Fort Myers don’t actually live there, but rather commute from 20 to 30 minutes away. Long-distance travel in this area takes people over potentially dangerous places like bridges and highways.

“And that’s tragic, because that’s someone’s mother,” said Lt. Greg Bueno, FHP public affairs officer. “That’s someone’s sister, those are someone’s brothers, someone’s children, any of us should be able to relate to that. And that’s why we until we’re blue in the face, we talk about the importance of being safe while driving. This year, we’re on the cusp of 1,700 fatalities already.”

Fort Myers resident Shidea Kafei says she keeps her guard up when she’s on the road because she just assumes that everybody’s a bad driver.

“Definitely, it breaks my heart anytime I see a big crash, it’s really scary,” Kafei said. “And it’s been on my mind a lot, actually; when I’m driving, I’m literally like, ‘I gotta be so on point,’ because I have noticed that there have been a lot of crashes lately and they can be so fatal.”

FHP believes that distracted driving is also a major cause of this spike in crashes, and that if everyone took time to dedicate 100% focus to the roads, our spiking number of crashes might dwindle and save lives.

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