I still remember the first week the I-95 express lanes opened. People were confused and there were accidents galore. We were assured that the express lanes would ease traffic congestion once motorist became familiar with the entry and exit points. Fast forward 6 years later, and while the confusion is gone there are still accidents galore.
The problem is not so much confusion as it is a combination of reckless drivers and narrow lanes. Those problems are compounded by a narrow shoulder, because after an accident, the stranded motorist has no place to go. No story illustrates the problem like that which occurred on March 5, 2011. On said date at around 5 a.m., five motorists were standing on the emergency shoulder of the Interstate 95 express lanes after a series of accidents, when a drunk driver entered the toll lanes, “lost control,” and struck all five people. As reported by The Miami Herald, four people died on the scene, the fifth died at Jackson Memorial Hospital. There is simply no place to go after an accident.
So how did we get here?
In order to implement the 95 Express system, the Florida Department of Transportation added a new lane to that stretch of I-95 in Miami-Dade County. Existing lanes were narrowed, plastic delineator poles were installed and the inside shoulder was shrunk by about 40 percent.
Most of the shoulder in the express lanes is now 7 feet, 11 inches — a little more narrow than a standard parking spot. So, after an accident you get to pull over and place your car in a 8 foot wide parking spot.
Another problem are the drivers cutting through the plastic poles that separate off the express lanes from the regular lanes. This is known as “lane-diving.” I drive the lanes daily, and am amazed at the manner in which drivers weave in and out of the express lanes. To that end, at least four people have died as a result of lane-diving accidents. Imagine driving at 55-65 MPH, and all of a sudden a driver from a dead stop cuts into your lane.
In 2011, a driver jumped out of the express lanes trying to get to the exit at Northwest 125th Street, hitting a pickup truck in the regular lanes. The driver of the truck died on the scene.
In 2014, just south of Northwest 62nd Street, a Honda Accord tried to jump into the express lanes and was hit by a Toyota Camry. The driver of the Honda died on the scene.
And barely two weeks after that accident, in almost the exact spot, three visitors from New Jersey were driving north in the general purpose lanes. It was rush hour, and traffic was backing up in the general purpose lanes, so they cut in through the express lanes and were struck by a vehicle driving in the express lanes. Two of the visitors from New Jersey died.
A review of accidents data shows that most crashes along the I-95 stretch happened during rush hour traffic. “Incapacitating” accidents occurred throughout the day, and fatal accidents are most likely between 10 pm and 5 am.
In summary, try to avoid the express lanes after 10:00 pm, and when using the express lanes drive in the outermost lanes-away from the general lanes.
I-95 is Dangerous
- I-95 Accident Results in 7.13 Million Verdict
- Man Killed by Semi Truck on I-95
- I-95 Rear End Crash in Broward
- Disabled Vehicle Leads to Death on I-95
- Child Killed in I-95 Crash After Car Catches Fire
- I-95 Crash Kills Bicyclist Not Wearing Helmet
- Wrong Way Crash on I-95 Violated Protocol
- I-95 Crash Leaves Two in Critical Condition
- 11 Accidents on I-95 Caused by Rental Truck
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.