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Stretch of Lee County highway deadliest in SWFL

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 05:14:16-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — One stretch of highway in Lee County has the highest amount of deadly crashes in Southwest Florida.

The major factor is speed along just two miles of Business 41 in North Fort Myers where the crashes happen.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) district one safety manager Keith Robbins explained the combination of drivers speeding and the high volume of traffic.

"Lee County has our number one corridor for fatalities in our district and hour counties cover 12 districts of Southwest Florida," Robbins said.

The deadliest in district one, Data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website shows an average of 100-deadly crashes a year in Lee County from 2019 to 2021.

That's about two a week, far more than neighboring counties.

From 2019 to 2021, Collier has 40 deadly crashes a year and Charlotte had 25.

Robbins says the high amount of crashes in North Fort Myers sparked the attention of FDOT.

"Distracted driving is a real high factor and causes a lot of crashes. Distracting driving, aggressive driving, speeding. We have a lot of lane departures which is when the vehicle leaves the road or crosses the lane into the opposing lane," Robbins said.

When looking at the average, annual daily traffic (AADT) for the area, it averaged about 43,000 drivers last year.

"The statistics are pointing to the volume on that roadway and traffic. We have what is called designed speed and a targeted speed," Robbins explained. "A designed speed is what a roadway is physically engineered to accommodate."

The target speed limit is what FDOT is currently looking into by examining the conditions of the road to find an alternative speed.

"That bridge down there, the Edison. I walk over it and I tell you it's like a racetrack," said Kathy Jenkins, a Lee County Resident.

Jenkins recently moved to Lee County and said she notices how much traffic comes through that area. She also pointed out a law enforcement presence trying to keep an eye on the traffic flow.

"There is a spot right there and I always see them sitting there," Jenkins said. "I do believe police are working on it."

The Lee County Sheriff's Office deputies patrol the area.

LCSO did not respond to our request for comment about the high fatal crashes in the area and their plan to try and help reduce the problem.

FDOT did say they are trying to help the department as much as they can.

I would not say our law enforcement partners are not doing enough enforcement. They are doing what they can with the limited resources they have available to them. It is a tough situation. What we are trying to do to help them in that regard is to provide them with feedback from our studies and projects on locations where we see a high number of violations (speeding, for example) so they can address by targeting their enforcement efforts in those locations.

Again, it’s all about partnerships and working together to try and make a difference in moving the needle reducing the number of serious injury and fatality crashes on our roadways.

Keith Robbins - FDOT's District Safety Administrator