If you follow Villages-News.com on a regular basis, then you know that we’re going through an extremely dangerous period in The Villages.
We’re at the height of snowbird season and it’s much colder than normal in the Northern states, so even more seasonal residents are taking refuge in the area to avoid the frigid record-low temperatures at their other homes.
Having so many people in The Villages can mean great things – busy stores, packed restaurants and a booming local economy. But it also can mean something else – more people on the roadways in and around Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, which clearly is translating into more dangerous crashes involving both cars and golf carts.
If you don’t believe that, then please consider these incidents:
- A 67-year-old Villager was airlifted to UF Shands Hospital in Gainesville after a crash between two golf carts this past Tuesday on Morse Boulevard.
- Two people were transported by ambulance to Ocala Regional Medical Center last Monday afternoon after a crash at Fresh Market in The Villages.
- A woman was transported to Leesburg Regional Medical Center after her car was rear-ended last Sunday afternoon on State Road 44 at Buena Vista Boulevard in The Villages.
- Four people were hospitalized after a Jan. 24 crash at the intersection of Del Mar Drive and Rio Grande Avenue.
- An SUV wound up in the middle of some landscaping at a Village of Fernandina home on Jan. 24 after the driver suffered an apparent medical episode.
- A man who suffered a medical episode Jan. 22 crashed into a tree on Buena Vista Boulevard just south of Stillwater Trail.
- A driver was ticketed after a two-car crash on the afternoon of Jan. 22 in the Village of Collier at the intersection of McLin Lane and Hendry Drive.
- A woman who said she had been drinking at City Fire was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 19 after a crash in the roundabout at Morse Boulevard and Stillwater Trail.
- One person was airlifted from the scene of a three-car crash on Rolling Acres Road on Jan. 17. The well-traveled roadway just outside The Villages remained closed for more than three hours while a Florida Highway Patrol investigator studied the crash scene.
- One man was injured on the afternoon of Jan. 16 when his Honda SUV rolled over on Picciola Road in Fruitland Park.
- A Fruitland Park teenager was injured in a Jan. 11 crash when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a tree while traveling northbound at the roundabout at Buena Vista Boulevard and Rainey Trail.
- A motorcyclist from Michigan died Jan. 11 after crashing into a pickup truck on County Road 44 at Cypress Drive in Lake County.
- Three people were transported by ambulance to The Villages Regional Hospital after a Jan. 9 crash on Buena Vista Boulevard.
For starters, let’s take into account that we’re talking about a whopping 13 serious crashes involving golf carts and/or automobiles in less than a month’s time. That’s a very scary fact when you consider how many times each of us is traveling on a roadway in The Villages or a surrounding area at any given hour of the day. And frankly, it should frighten the heck out of each of us who calls The Villages home or works in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
As you know from reading the items above, some of the crashes were because of medical issues and one was related to alcohol. Obviously, we as motorists have no control over those issues. But we all should realize the need to be even more careful when behind the wheel in The Villages because, let’s face it, we’re talking about a mega-retirement community with a bunch of bars where a huge majority of the residents are senior citizens.
The older we get, the more health problems we tend to have. And some people just like to drink too much and then try to drive home. So it stands to reason that we each need to be on guard when traveling the various roadways in and around the community.
The bottom line is this: We all need to be much more alert when driving these days. Our community is packed with residents and the roadways are only going to get busier as the multitude of new homes are built in the Villages of Southern Oaks south of County Road 44. Toss in the high volume of construction-related vehicles traveling Villages streets and it just stands to reason that nasty crashes apparently are going to be the norm.
Going forward, we’d like to ask everyone to make a concerted effort to be careful. Be extra-aware of what’s going on around you when traveling in The Villages and the surrounding areas. And leave 10 minutes early if possible so you have plenty of time to get to your destination safely.
Also, when traveling, please buckle up. As journalists, we’ve covered thousands of crashes and we can tell you that the overwhelming majority of time, seatbelts play a huge role in saving lives. And you are required by law to wear them.
So please be careful out there. It’s a traffic jungle in The Villages right now and being super cautious and driving defensively has never been more important.