Deadline Miami

Traffic deaths on Keys’ Overseas Highway down in 2014

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there have been 10 traffic fatalities in Monroe County so far this year, compared to 20 in all of 2013.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there have been 10 traffic fatalities in Monroe County so far this year, compared to 20 in all of 2013. Florida Keys News Bureau

Slowing down to avoid a speeding ticket is one of the reasons for a decrease in traffic deaths in Monroe County.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there have been 10 traffic fatalities in Monroe County so far this year, compared to 20 in all of 2013.

"I think it's a multitude of things," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kathleen McKinney said. "When [drivers] see law enforcement, they tend to slow down, that's a natural reaction we hope for."

McKinney also cites road construction, more signs and better-made cars as factors behind the decline.

According to state Department of Transportation District 6 spokeswoman Ivette Ruiz-Paz, there are 13 active construction projects throughout the county, from drainage improvements on Summerland Key to resurfacing on Plantation Key. Finished construction helps, too.

"With all the construction we've had in the Keys, there are some places where the roads are in better shape," McKinney said.

The number of deaths has declined despite the number of overnight visits throughout Monroe County.

The county's Tourist Development Council estimates there were more than 3 million overnight visits Keyswide in 2013. That's about 11 percent more than the 2.7 million or so overnight stays in 2011.

McKinney hopes this year's traffic fatality numbers don't change. The last county traffic death FHP reported in 2013 happened Dec. 15 that year.

Last week, Damian Haines, a 54-year-old Fort Lauderdale man, died after being hit by three cars while walking across U.S. 1 at mile marker 59. He died at the scene. Haines was taking part in the SMART Ride, a bicycle race from Miami to Key West that raises money for five organizations, including AIDS Help in Key West.

The FHP does not track traffic fatalities in the Southernmost City, where Key West police investigate traffic crashes. A fatal happened there on Oct. 31. Daniel Mira, 36, is charged with leaving the scene of a crash with injuries and other crimes after he allegedly plowed into a scooter on North Roosevelt Boulevard, killing Stock Island resident Karen Cherry, 54. He's in jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

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