On December 11, 2012, a car accident in Saddlebunch Keys saw one person transported to a local hospital and another airlifted emergently to Miami. The Sheriff’s Office has yet to provide the names of the victims or how the multiple vehicle accident occurred shortly before 5pm.
This is the latest major motor vehicle accident with injuries in the Florida Keys. Monroe County has a long history of injuries and deaths caused by car accidents, most of which happen on the highway leading into Monroe County from the mainland. Overseas Highway is the single way in and single way out of the County. In 2010, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) recorded 21 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in Monroe County, and 3 fatalities involving bicyclists.
The reason for such a sad record can be attributed to multiple factors. One is the road itself. The highway presents unique and dangerous conditions due to the high volume of visitor traffic on a single highway, and the close proximity of county residential areas. On top of that, the road consists of a series of bridges connecting islands, narrow in many places, and offers many distractions. The main reason listed by the local authorities and the NHTSA is the binge alcohol consumption associated with vacationing contributes greatly to high fatalities and accident rates.
The NHTSA recently published that in 2010, among the many factors most influencing fatal crashes in Monroe County, alcohol consumption and alcohol-impaired drivers amounted to a whooping 22% of all fatal crashes.
To put these numbers into perspective, Florida CHARTS compared alcohol-related fatal crashes in Monroe County with the rest of the State of Florida (per 100,000 persons). The verdict is clear and troubling. In 2001, Monroe County had a death rate twice as high as the rest of the State (12.6 to 6.1). In 2010, while the State’s rate decreased to 4.2, Monroe County’s death rate grew to a monumental 19.2. In other words, Monroe County has a death rate 5 times higher than the rest of the State of Florida when it comes to alcohol-related fatal accidents.