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Enforcement Needed to End Carnage on Area Roads

Too Many Deaths Are Due to Dangerous Drivers

A bloody toll of fatalities and serious injuries during the month of May has left multiple area families mourning their losses. The rash of deadly crashes is a clear call for increased law enforcement presence on area streets and highways.

So far in this month, at least five people have been killed in four fatal accidents in the Lake Wales area. Three of those occurred in two crashes at the single intersection of US 27 and Washington Avenue.

Earlier this month two Haines City men died when the driver of their vehicle apparently ran a red light there late at night, crashing into a truck. That was followed by a rear-end crash that took the life of a Lake Wales resident early this week.

Another Lake Wales man died on US 27 in Dundee after turning his motorcycle onto the wrong lanes of travel, and an Orlando woman died after being struck by a truck on an unlighted stretch of Chalet Suzanne Road.

While these crashes can't all be attributed to unlawful speed, a recent test by staff determined that the vast majority of travelers on area streets and highways are exceeding the posted speed limits and ignoring other traffic laws.

Traveling at the speed limits during 25 miles of driving area roadways, we overtook only three vehicles. We were passed countless times, often by drivers passing us at much higher speeds up to 25 miles per hour over the limit. We saw no law enforcement presence during that test.

The Florida Highway Patrol is typically expected to enforce speed limits on state and federal highways. They are rarely observed patrolling this area.

The problem isn't limited to US 27 and SR 60, either. Local streets see much of the same disregard for the laws. During our test we were passed by a speeding vehicle immediately adjacent to the Little League ballfields while traveling on Lakeshore Boulevard. Luckily the area wasn't crowded with children at the time.

We were often tailgated by vehicles who approached within 15 feet of ours while traveling at speed. That allows insufficient time to react to an emergency braking. We also witnessed several incidents of drivers running stop signs.

While there is no cure-all approach to preventing deadly accidents, we remain convinced that a general disregard for traffic laws and common sense are contributing factors. A visible police presence and enforcement action may give dangerous drivers pause. Lives could be saved in the process.


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