Agencies across Lee County spent the morning talking about the deadliest crime in America in response to National 3D Month (drinking, drugs, and distracted driving). While local agencies driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs continues to be the most often committed crime across America, Lee County agencies say drowsy driving is also an issue.
Chris Specht, the owner of Amber Taxi has been driving around a taxi for more than a decade, he says what he sees on the streets of Lee County is alarming.
"I see people not paying attention and running red lights," Specht said. "Aggressive driving, weaving in and out, no turn signals, it's dangerous."
Specht says that during the holiday season it's even worse.
"I've seen drunk drivers or drivers who are unfamiliar with the roads that end up going the wrong direction on a one way street," he said.
The numbers seem to agree.
According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), in 2015, the nation saw 2,348 more fatalities from motor vehicle crashes than in 2014---a 7.2 percent increase. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015. Alcohol- impaired driving fatalities accounted for 29 percent of 2015 overall fatalities. An alcohol-impaired driving fatality is defined as a fatality in a crash involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dl or greater.
In 2015, a total of 95 traffic fatalities occurred in Lee County. As of Nov. 27, 2016, the same number of fatalities had occurred on our roadways in the first 11 months - with more than a month remaining in the year, including the busy holidays. Reports consistently show 48% - 52% of trauma alerts involve alcohol or illicit drugs, or both, in the driver's system at the time of the crash.
Dr. Neyalda Fonte, a trauma surgeon with Lee Memorial says the effects are too graphic to describe.
"I don't think you want me to say that on TV," Fonte said. "What we see is really graphic. Most of it is preventable if people were more responsible or just called a cab instead."
While drinking, drugs, and drowsy driving is a problem, Lt. Jay Rodriguez with the Fort Myers Police Department says the biggest problem in the County is disgruntled drivers behind the wheel.
"It just seems like people are in a rush to get places and have no common courtesy for other drivers," he said. "Aggressive driving is a big issue here we're dealing with in Lee County."
Lt. Rodriguez tells Four In Your Corner, the pedestrian accidents and bicyclist accidents are among the highest in the state per our capita.
Agencies also discussed there will be several DUI check points scheduled, as well as other operations throughout the month of December.
The full press conference held at the Lee County Sheriff's Office is found below.