Major Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release August 30, 2001
TALLAHASSEE - During last year's Labor Day holiday, 32 persons were killed in traffic crashes during the 96-hour holiday weekend. This year the 96-hour holiday begins at 0001 hours Friday, August 31, 2001 and extends through midnight, Monday, September 3, 2001. Last year, seventy-two percent (72%) of the drivers and passengers killed in vehicles normally equipped with safety belts were not using them and forty percent (40%) of the fatal crashes that occurred during the holiday were alcohol-related.
In an effort to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries that are likely to occur, Florida Highway Patrol troopers, along with other law enforcement agencies across the state, will participate in the Buckle Up Florida Labor Day Enforcement Wave from September 1-9, 2001. During this nine-day period, all participating law enforcement agencies will have "zero tolerance" for violations of safety belt and child restraint laws. Any driver who is pulled over for another violation and found unrestrained will be issued a citation. In addition, any vehicle observed to have unrestrained child passengers will be pulled over and ticketed as well.
Florida's safety belt law states that all front seat passengers must be buckled up, regardless of age. Children under age 6 must be properly restrained; through age 3 in an approved child safety seat and ages 4-5 in a child safety seat or a safety belt. Drivers are held responsible for any passengers under age 16 who are not buckled. "This is an important traffic safety issue in Florida, and it is one that cannot be ignored," said Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the FHP. "We aren't looking for a reason to write tickets, we are simply trying to save lives. It is a fact - you are much more likely to escape death or injury in a traffic crash if you are buckled up. It's worth that few seconds of your time to avoid the tragedy we see every day on our roadways," Knight added. Safety belt citations will cost motorists up to $60; child restraint violations cost as much as $90, with 3 points added to a driver's record.
During daylight hours, FHP's ten (10) aircraft will be utilized throughout the holiday to work with ground troopers in detecting excessive speed violations and aggressive or reckless drivers. FHP pilots will also be vigilant for motorists who may become stranded or disabled along the busy Interstate systems. Troopers on patrol after dark will be targeting drunk drivers at planned DUI checkpoint operations or through concentrated DUI wolfpack patrols. As always, motorists are encouraged to use *FHP (*347) to request assistance or report drunk and/or aggressive drivers.
"Our mission is to make the last official holiday of the summer season a safe one for those traveling throughout Florida," concluded Colonel Knight.