Major Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol
For Immediate Release
TALLAHASSEE - Colonel Charles C. "Curt" Hall, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, today announced some specific strategies that will be implemented throughout the state in an effort to reduce traffic deaths and injuries during the last two holiday periods of 1998. The 96-hour Christmas holiday period will begin Thursday, December 24, 1998, and end at midnight, Sunday, December 27, 1998. The 96-hour New Year's holiday period will run from Thursday, December 31, 1998, through midnight, Sunday, January 3, 1999.
"I've asked our troop commanders to be sure that all available personnel are assigned to either routine patrol duties or specific enforcement operations during both holiday periods," Colonel Hall stressed. This includes all personnel normally assigned to administrative or specialized duty assignments, such as supervisory personnel, recruiters, background investigators, court liaison officers, etc. Last year, 11 persons were killed each day in traffic crashes during the Christmas holiday; 8 people per day died during New Years.
Other specific plans that will be implemented throughout the Patrol's ten field troops include:
All troops are scheduling at least one DUI sobriety checkpoint operation during the holiday periods.
DUI Suppression Teams will be targeting drunk drivers, excessive speed and other hazardous moving violations, as well as drivers who exhibit aggressive driving characteristics.
Covert radar operations, aircraft, unmarked patrol cars, speed measuring awareness radar trailers, and decoy patrol cars with mannequins will be used during daylight hours to reduce unlawful speed violations.
FHP helicopters in the West Palm Beach, Lake City, and Pensacola areas will be used to monitor traffic congestion, and will report aggressive drivers and disabled vehicles to ground units for appropriate action.
FHP Auxiliary and Reserve troopers will be volunteering their time to assist regular troopers during the holidays by participating in sobriety checkpoint operations, operating marked patrol vehicles in limited scope patrols on interstates and other major roadways, and riding with troopers on routine patrols.
Emphasis will continue to be placed on the Patrol's "Zero Tolerance" of safety belt and child restraint violations - a policy that has been in effect for over a year.
FHP officials are also warning motorists of possible side effects that prescription or over-the-counter medication may have on one's ability to drive. Commonly used drugs include:
Antihistamines - These are contained in many non-prescription cold remedies, cough medicines, allergy preparation, hay fever medications, and decongestants. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, which can affect driving ability.
Tranquilizers - Most tranquilizers are prescribed to relieve tension and anxiety. They may also cloud judgment, slow reflexes, hamper hand-eye coordination, or slow brain activity.
Stimulants - Generally, these drugs make people more alert, but only for a short time. Later, they may cause nervousness, dizziness, loss of concentration, or visual problems
Pain relievers - Many minor prescription pain killers contain codeine, a drug which may cause drowsiness. Stronger pain relievers may cause a greater degree of sedation. Obviously, anyone whose alertness is affected by a pain reliever doesn't belong in the driver's seat.
Anyone who is taking medication should ask their doctor or pharmacist if the medication will impair their ability to drive. They can also call 1-899-OK2DRIVE to get more information. "Remember, even legal drugs can get you busted. Any drug you take might impair your driving skills - and, if sedating medications impair your driving, you could be cited for DUI, " warned Colonel Hall.