A strange phenomenon happens when you’re traveling on both the 18-Mile Stretch or Card Sound Road — the two roads leading in and out of the Keys. No matter how fast you drive, you typically arrive at the end of the road at just about the same time as the other drivers with whom you began your journey.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to drive aggressively — way over the speed limit and passing when it is extremely dangerous to do so. In fact, if this is how you drive on the Stretch and Card Sound, shame on you. One day, you just might kill someone.
As we reported last week, trying to make it to Florida City a couple of minutes before the car in front of you gets there has been proven time and again to be deadly. On May 6, the driver of a pickup truck heading to the mainland apparently really wanted to be the first to get there. When the speeding driver went to pass another car, he lost control of his truck and slid sideways directly in front of a Jeep SUV heading south.
Now he’s dead and so is Margaret Gooding, a 48-year-old Realtor from Homestead who was a passenger in the Jeep. The driver, Kimberly LaCapra, 31, a colleague Realtor, survived, but she did not emerge without injury and a multiple-day stay in the hospital. The crash demonstrated that in an instant, a pleasant drive to the Keys can turn into a heartbreaking, life-altering nightmare just because one person was in too much of a hurry to stay in his lane.
If it’s too much to ask for everyone to drive responsibly on Card Sound Road, maybe a concrete barrier separating oncoming traffic is in order, a la the one on the 18-Mile Stretch. After the barrier was built on the Stretch in 2011, that section of U.S. 1 went from averaging around nine vehicle crash fatalities a year to almost none because it eliminated the ability to pass by way of the opposite lane.
Now, you still get that person who finds it so important to be two car-lengths ahead of you that he or she uses the shoulder to pass and then frantically tries to squeeze his way back into the queue, but that’s much more annoying than dangerous. That said, when passing on the shoulder, you could easily hit a pedestrian or bicyclist or a pulled-over vehicle. Be patient. Avoid causing a tragedy.
We also must address those who drive way too slow. These drivers often act as the trigger to people who otherwise wouldn’t drive aggressively. They get understandably impatient after slogging onward for miles 10 mph below the posted speed limit that they pass the first chance they get.
And for the love of all things holy, when you reach the two passing zones on the 18-Mile Stretch, if you want to drive slow, move over to the righ-hand lane. The left lane is for passing and faster drivers.
One more thing. At night on both roads, turn off your brights!