Captain Rich Stoltenberg of the Marco Island Police Department urged residents and visitors to be especially alert now that season has arrived, and the roadways are much busier. He stated, “Our motorists and others riding bicycles, motorcycles and other recreational means of transport, in addition to pedestrians, need to be aware that the intensity of traffic and potential for accidents has increased as our seasonal residents return.”
Captain Stoltenberg’s comments came on the heels of a fatal accident at the intersection of Elkcam Court and North Collier Boulevard. Marco Island P.D. and Fire/Rescue personnel were dispatched to that accident scene early on the morning of January 2nd. A vehicle, driven by 53-year-old islander Bart Drake, collided with a motor scooter being operated by 63-year-old Wayne Peter Ploghoft, also of Marco Island.
Mr. Ploghoft was transported to Physicians Regional Hospital, but unfortunately, he succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash. The Florida Highway Patrol performed an investigation of the fatality
This year alone the roads on and around Marco appear to be more crowded than normal. Adding to that congestion are more rentals of smaller “recreational style” vehicles, such as road legal golf carts, small 3-wheel vehicles, and rental motor scooters. Riders in those vehicles are required to adhere to all of the same requirements of a normal motor vehicle concerning the use of seatbelts, turn signals and yielding to pedestrians.
Another addition to the roadways is the usage of “motorized” two-wheel bicycles that move along at a faster rate than the normal bicycle.
Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists all have a responsibility to ride and drive safely to ensure we can avoid other tragedies during 2020. The need to equip bicycles with proper “lighting” is also an issue as they are hard to see in the evening.
Stoltenberg also cautioned drivers to be aware of a no-tolerance philosophy regarding DUI, not only on the island but throughout Collier County and the State of Florida. “Unfortunately, we still see alcohol–related crashes and the resulting injuries and deaths on the highways due to drinking and driving. Cabs are cheap on the island and many of our restaurants offer complimentary transport if one thinks they might be smart to come back for their vehicle the next day,” Stoltenberg explained.
Captain Stoltenberg also pointed out that a typical DUI could cost a driver upwards to $10,000 and result in other penalties. As he said it best, “A seven-dollar cab ride is a smart choice, rather than face the potential consequences.”
He also wanted to remind citizens that “texting while driving” is no longer a secondary offense and does not require a primary offense to facilitate a stop. The change in the law passed by the legislature allows drivers to be stopped when observed to be texting while driving. That distraction has been found to cause numerous accidents with serious injuries and fatalities over the last several years.
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