Collier deputies, Marco police discuss speeding danger on Collier Boulevard

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A fishing reel sits atop a memorial roadside cross erected for a victim on Collier Boulevard near Mainsail Drive. The road is deemed dangerous despite being a straight eight-mile run between Marco Island and U.S.41. Quentin Roux Staff

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX

A fishing reel sits atop a memorial roadside cross erected for a victim on Collier Boulevard near Mainsail Drive. The road is deemed dangerous despite being a straight eight-mile run between Marco Island and U.S.41. Quentin Roux Staff

— It’s a wide open, straight, 8-mile shot from U.S. 41 to the city of Marco Island, but it’s a section of Collier Boulevard that is dangerous ... and deadly.

The causes? Drivers. Period.

“It’s been a perplexing problem for years,” said Lt. Harold J. Minch, a special operations lieutenant with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

He recently conducted an educational blitz with his agency and officers from the Marco Island police department. The goal was to “encourage voluntary compliance with all traffic laws, and to reduce motor vehicle crashes through education, deterrence and enforcement.”

Minch said distractions — now exacerbated by cell phone talking as well as texting while driving — compound the dangers of the road.

Throw in speed as well as complacency due to the uncomplicated stretch of road, and the equation becomes even more sinister, Minch said

He emphasized that drivers in a hurry don’t make up much time, mere seconds on the stretch at 60 mph vs. 70 mph, and that speeding simply serves no other purpose other than causing injuries or getting drivers cited.

Regular Collier Boulevard commuter Kathy Wielgos said she sticks to between 55 and 60 mph on the road, but still encounters motorists who want to blast through at higher speeds.

“You’re doing 60 in the left lane, there’s a bottleneck of slower cars in the right lane ... that’s when you get (confronted with) road rage,” Wielgos said. “I had a guy tailing me at 60, and getting really aggressive. I called the cops, but they said there was nothing they could do in that instance.”

An important corollary to the driving-while-talking (or texting) warning, Minch said, is that drivers don’t account for other drivers doing the same thing as well.

Another factor, Minch said, is that drivers have plenty to look at while driving along the road _ the Hammock Bay towers and the outlet mall being two of the distractions.

The inevitable bottleneck caused by improper merging just to the north of the bridge heading onto the island is also of great concern, Minch said.

“Most people do the right thing and merge correctly, but you always get the person who decides they’re special and won’t get in line. They create aggressive situations.” he said.

He said his office has had plenty of calls on that issue.

Another factor is Marco having a low speed on the island.

“The highest posted speed is 35 mph,” Minch said, “so people are ready to open up when they get on the stretch. They want to make up time.”

As with limits on other Florida roads, a buffer of 5 mph is tolerated, Minch said, but when someone clocks in at 80 on the 55 mph Collier Boulevard stretch, there’s “no discussion.”

No human being has never not exceeded the limit, he said, but it’s the police’s job to straighten that out.

One way of doing that is to place empty police vehicles in medians, even if motorists know they’re not occupied.

“It’s a reminder,” Minch said, “and it works very well.”

As for why the Marco to U.S. 41 section is posted at 55 mph and the seemingly safer section between U.S. 41 to Davis Boulevard is 45 mph, Minch said it’s purely an engineering issue.

“It has to do with curves, light posts close to the roadway and less right of way,” he said. “People think we set the speed limits, but the truth is that the engineers do it. We simply enforce the speed limits.”

So, how does the driver with the Shelby Mustang or the Maserati or the Porsche Cayenne meet their need for speed?

Simple, Minch said: “Go to the Immokalee raceway.”

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 6

marcogolf writes:

Put a cop there in the morning when the kids are going to Lely and put one there in the afternoon when they're coming home. The kids think that road is a frickin' raceway. Has to be the most dangerous road in Collier County.

happy6 writes:

i agree with that...also put a cop at the merge lane going onto the bridge....AND...eliminate the "distraction" of the 20 "No Parking" signs....perhaps if we weren't so critical of the sheriff's dept they would send a car down every now and then to stop this.

u2cane writes:

People also need to go at least the speed limit, during the weekends you always get people out there who do 45 and clog the left lane. The majority of your accidents are caused when the biggest differences in speed occur. Some people need to speed up and others need to slow down. Its not just the speeders, its the snails that troll that road and think they should be in the left lane.

titanbite writes:

“It’s been a perplexing problem for years,” said Lt. Harold J. Minge, a special operations lieutenant with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

"Perplexing",seriously?!

Minge said this too,"

No human being has never not exceeded the limit", he said, "but it’s the police’s job to straighten that out".

"Never not",again,seriously!

Keep "discussing" the problem,that should "Straighten things out"!

When will the Sheriff get sick of this guys mouth and tell him to stop talking to the media,doesn't CCSO have a media liason?!

Everything he says is just ridicules,it's as though he just stepped off the set of "Reno 911".

Please,tell me he doesn't wear those tiny shorts!

JohninMarco writes:

in response to u2cane:

People also need to go at least the speed limit, during the weekends you always get people out there who do 45 and clog the left lane. The majority of your accidents are caused when the biggest differences in speed occur. Some people need to speed up and others need to slow down. Its not just the speeders, its the snails that troll that road and think they should be in the left lane.

Well stated! Add to it riding in the left lane on their cell phones going 40mph.

naples_rocket writes:

I believe that the biggest problem in this are is that left lane is the slow lane and right one is a passing lane.
Just the other day I was going back to Marco. There was one car in front of me and one behind me. We all were in the left lane, all doing 50. At the Capri light there was a car waiting to turn right. Because three of us were in the left lane car from the Capri light started turning right into the right lane. At the same time car behind me decided to pass me and the car in front of me by moving to the right lane. Well and exactly at the same time that car from Capri light pulled out. So I slammed on my breaks that car from behind me could get back to the left lane in front of me and avoid the collision. It was a matter of seconds.
I keep thinking, who is an idiot here. One who pulled out of the Capri light or the one from behind me who decided to pass me... Probably both.

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