Major Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release December 21, 2000
TALLAHASSEE - Colonel Charles C. Hall, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, issued a travel alert and stern traffic enforcement warning today in an effort to curb Florida's fatality rate. Zero tolerance enforcement strategies will be implemented throughout the state in an effort to reduce traffic deaths and injuries during the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holiday periods. The 96-hour Christmas holiday period will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, December 22, 2000, and end at midnight, Monday, December 25, 2000. The 96-hour New Year's holiday period will run from 12:01 a.m. Friday, December 29, 2000, through midnight, Monday, January 1, 2001.
According to the latest statistics, Florida is experiencing an increase in traffic deaths this year. "Forty-three more people have died on Florida's roadways this year than at the same time in 1999. Hopefully, strict enforcement and high visibility will help to reverse this trend," Hall said. Last year, 7 persons were killed each day in traffic crashes during the Christmas holiday; 6 people per day died during New Years, which equates to a total of 52 people dying in traffic crashes over the holiday periods.
All available troopers and supervisors will be patrolling during the holiday weekend, placing special enforcement emphasis on DUI, speeding, reckless driving, careless driving, and occupant restraint violations. Radar, VASCAR, aircraft, laser, and unmarked patrol cars will be used as part of the FHP traffic enforcement arsenal during the holiday. "Troopers will also place a specific emphasis on aggressive drivers. Aggressive behavior is becoming more commonplace in our driving environment and adding to the already dangerous conditions of everyday travel," Hall said. FHP troopers will be looking for those demonstrating aggressive driving tendencies. "We define aggressive drivers to be those who demonstrate a disregard for the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and others sharing the road. Those drivers who carelessly change lanes, run red lights, travel at very high speeds, and pass other vehicles on the shoulder, demonstrate the aggressive behavior troopers will be seeking out," according to Colonel Hall.
Motorists equipped with cellular telephones are encouraged to report DUI, aggressive drivers, and other highway emergencies on their cellular telephone by dialing *FHP (*347); doing so will connect the caller to the closest Florida Highway Patrol office. The call is toll-free.
HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS
- Try to leave early for your travel destination and allow sufficient time to return home before dark. Over 70% of the fatalities occurred after dark during the 1999 holiday. (Remember that it gets dark earlier this time of year.)
- Driver fatigue is responsible for many crashes and fatigue also promotes short tempers and aggressive driving behavior.
- Well-lighted and security-patrolled rest areas are provided along the interstate system. This small time investment to rest can make the difference between a safe journey and a tragic crash.
- Last year, 60% of the people that died during the holiday period had occupant restraints available, but did not use them! The simple act of investing 2-3 seconds to buckle up can make the difference between walking way from a traffic crash and riding away in an ambulance!
- Florida law requires that all children under 4 years of age be in a separate child restraint seat. They should be fastened in the back seat in the center, especially in those cars equipped with airbags in the front passenger areas. Also make certain the child seats are installed properly according to manufacturers recommendations. It is estimated that 80-90% of the child seats used are improperly installed and may pose a serious threat to the child.
- Last year, 46% of the holiday traffic deaths were alcohol-related. Alcohol modifies motor skills, temperament, and attitude and has no place in the driver's seat!