Defensively navigating Naples traffic patterns
I have never driven regularly in an area that is at the same time so convenient and wonderful, but also stressful and dangerous. There is a dichotomy to the traffic patterns in Naples that is hard to put into words, but at times I hate driving here and others I think it’s the best. First off, our town has one of the best highways in the country. Our stretch of I-75 is a toll-free, free-flowing interstate with plenty of exits and safe, long on and off ramps. Compared to other interstates in the country, I-75 is a dream. However, there are so many fatalities on I-75 because of the high 70 mile per hour speed limits and the usual dosage of bad driving. Seeing all of the bad news on our highway week after week really just puts my defensive driving mode into high gear when I travel on it.
Our side streets are mostly newer and the infrastructure has been put in place for adequate lane widths, signage, traffic lights, biking lanes, and sidewalks. The roads are beautifully manicured and clean without potholes or much visible wear and tear. Yet still, driving in our town when season hits becomes both stressful and flat-out dangerous. Having worked on thousands of car crash claims in the area, I have noticed patterns that are unique to our area that should be highlighted. First of all, rear-end accidents from inattentive driving is hands down the easiest way to end up injured in a car accident in our town. There are so many traffic lights, so much stop and go, and relatively high speed limits on these roads (usually 45 or higher), that it only takes a split second for someone to crash into the person ahead of them. There is not much one can do to avoid these types of things except for braking slowly before stopping, not taking the foot off the brake until you are ready to move, and always being cautious at yielding.
The other very common accident we see is cars making a left hand turn in front of cars that have the right of way in the other direction. This happens sometimes because of drivers confusing green lights with green left hand turn signals, and sometimes it’s just purely a negligent maneuver, but in Naples I think it’s because many of our roads are three lanes and crossing three lanes of moving traffic is not easy to do. I think many people have developed the habit of darting through a break in the traffic, which is common in many towns because usually you only have to cross one lane. But when you use the same mentality with three lanes, it is harder to judge the danger you are creating for yourself. Always remember that nobody has to let you make a left in front of them and assume they are going to roll past you at the speed limit. Drive defensively and cautiously through intersections, and do not switch lanes in an intersection and sometimes those impacts can be avoided.