INDIANTOWN, Fla. — People who live near and regularly drive along State Road 710 in Indiantown have been pushing for safety changes for years.
Now, they're amplifying their calls for safety improvements after a teenager was hospitalized following another crash just last week.
Martin County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy John Budensiek said the 14-mile stretch of State Road 710 through Indiantown is not the deadliest roadway in the county, but it tends to have some of the most serious crashes.
"When there is a crash, they're more severe because the cars are passing," Budensiek said. "They're going the opposite way, and they're running at speeds of 60-70 mph. Generally, they're high-speed, head-on crashes."
Last Wednesday, Emily Parker, 18, was making a left turn from State Road 710 onto Tommy Clements Street.
"I had my blinker on, and I was turning in," Parker recalls. "I guess he was passing, and I flew into a ditch."
She said someone illegally passing behind her hit her on her driver's side. She said she doesn't remember much of the crash.
"All I remember is waking up in the ambulance and asking if I was going to be OK," Parker said.
She suffered a concussion, scratches and bruising around her body.
"I feel grateful," Parker said.
But this year, three crashes had deadly outcomes. More than 40 non-deadly crashes have also occurred on the roadway this year.
Now, nearby residents and drivers said they are once again on high alert.
"Because of this, it's more anxiety for her, her family and everybody else who lives out here," Rebecca Lantigua said.
She said she started a petition four years ago to push the state or county to make safety improvements around the intersection of State Road 710 and Tommy Clements Street.
Over the last two years, flashing "do not pass" signs have been put up.
"Trees have overgrown, and they're not very visible now, but it was a step that they made," Lantigua said.
Rumble strips have also been installed, but Lantigua said it will take more to make a real difference.
"We need the community. We need our commissioner, the sheriff's department," Lantigua said. "We need more police presence. We need to come together as a whole to solve this problem."
The Florida Department of Transportation next summer is scheduled to complete the addition of a $2.5 million left turning lane.
Parker said expanding the roadway to four lanes will make her feel safer, reducing the need for drivers to pass each other.
That's what she would like to see expedited.
"People are losing their lives on this road," Parker said. "I could have been one of those victims."
The Metropolitan Planning Organization is expected to discuss the four-lane expansion at a February meeting.