Crashes on I-75 in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
- Number of Crashes (Apr. 2016- Apr. 2017): 1,364
- Number of Fatalities: 14
- Most Dangerous Month: July
- Most Dangerous Day: Friday
- Most Dangerous Time of Day: 5PM
- Most Dangerous Conditions: Clear, Daylight
Bryant La Rosa takes I-75 from his home in Ellenton to his office in downtown Sarasota every day.
“I'm very alert when I'm driving because I know how bad I-75 is,” said LaRosa. “You have to be alert at all times.”
It was that awareness that saved him from being a victim in an accident on I-75. When traffic came to a stop, LaRosa looked in his rearview mirror and saw a truck behind him that was unable to stop. That's when LaRosa pulled to the side of the road just in time.
“He ended up hitting the person in front of me,” said LaRosa before he lets out a breath. “So that would've been me.”
Since April of last year, I-75 saw nearly 1,400 total crashes on an 80 mile stretch of interstate from Northern Manatee County to Southern Sarasota County. That’s nearly four crashes a day on average. Of those crashes only 14 of them involved fatalities. The vast majority were fender benders, but there are certain places and times that hitting the interstate is particularly dangerous.
The worst times to drive the interstate are no surprise. Morning and evening rush hour see the most accidents. Interestingly though, just an hour can make all the difference. You're more than twice as likely to get in an accident at 8 a.m. as you are at 9 a.m. The same holds true at 5 p.m. compared to 7 p.m.
The most dangerous day to take the interstate is Friday followed by Wednesday.
While the most dangerous month is July.
You might be surprised to learn though that about 70 percent of crashes happen in the daylight during clear conditions.
State Trooper with Florida Highway Patrol Kenn Watson says drivers are less focused when conditions are good.
“The reason that we have more crashes when it's beautiful out is because people are taking their eye off the road,” said Watson. “They don't feel that it's paramount to be paying attention. The roads are not slippery.”
As far as who is likely to be involved in these crashes, 20 to 24 year olds top the list. Watson says those are the drivers most likely to reach for their gadgets while behind the wheel.
“This is the generation that grew up with them so it is more difficult to put them down while they're operating that motor vehicle,” said Watson.
Perhaps the most interesting fact though, is that accidents on that stretch of the interstate are most likely around construction zones.
“With that additional eye candy on the interstate, people are taking their eyes off the road and they're looking at the construction,” said Watson.
At the University Parkway Diverging Diamond project, the area saw more than 70 crashes in just a year.
Construction can be distracting and if you're a distracted driver then obviously it can cause an issue,” said Marlena Gore of Florida's Department of Transportation.
While there may be a correlation between crashes and construction zones, Gore says updates to Florida's infrastructure may actually prevent accidents in the long run.
We have a ridiculous number of people moving to Florida everyday,” said Gore. “It's hard to keep up, but we're doing the best we can.”
For now, LaRosa says the risk is not worth taking. He avoids the interstate as much as possible.
“I have to find alternate routes,” said LaRosa. “Anything that will stop me from having to go through I-75, because I know it's such a danger.”