We are big on numbers this time every year.
We ring in the New Year and ring out the old — a process loaded with numbers — and we take the inventory of statistics including traffic fatalities.
The year 2011 saw fatalities down in Collier, from 42 to 36, and up in Lee, from 65 to 72, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Make no mistake: While media reports of the numbers refer to "slight'' and "small'' changes, those are significant ups and downs — especially because they deal with a realm where only a single variation is as large as life.
Imagine all of those lost loved ones gathered in the same place.
Imagine how many people are left to grieve.
Fatalities had generally been on the decline for the past several years — a pleasant byproduct of a bad economy, with people driving less and fewer construction vehicles on the roads.
Local officials credit law enforcement agencies helping roadbuilders with better designs, plus better public education and better enforcement of traffic laws. They also talk about computerized strategizing for law enforcement at the most dangerous areas.
We believe the lion's share of what happens out there depends on drivers themselves.
Just think how much lower the fatality rates can go with a little additional common sense. We refer to less texting while driving. Less driving under the influence. Fewer red-light dares. Less speeding.
Whether that happens voluntarily or by force of law, we applaud it when it happens.
It's already happening to an extent in Collier. Lee has more work to do.
Still, in both places, the work has to be ongoing, every day.
You're worth it.