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Contact:
Major Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol or

River Buford
Florida Trucking Assosiation

For Release Thursday, September 30, 1999

TALLAHASSEE - Colonel Charles C. Hall, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and Mr. Tom Webb, President of the Florida Trucking Association (FTA), today announced a new highway safety initiative that will utilize the skills, experience, and road smarts of Florida’s professional truck drivers. "Highway Watch", a program spearheaded by the Florida Trucking Association, will train truck drivers to spot problems on Florida’s roadways and to report them to the Florida Highway Patrol in a rapid, reliable manner.

FHP Public Information Officers (PIO) from throughout Florida and seven (7) FTA "Road Team Members", including the FTA Truck Driving State Champion, attended and completed the initial training course today at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee. These 7 drivers have a combined 190 years and 14,900,000 miles of accident and ticket free driving. The training was conducted by the American Trucking Association and a representative of the Colorado State Patrol, one of the first agencies in the country to participate in the national highway safety initiative. FHP PIOs will return to their duty stations and begin training FTA-approved, volunteer professional truck drivers on a routine basis. Only professional truck drivers with a minimum of 750,000 accident and ticket-free miles will be eligible to participate in the Highway Watch program.

"We’re proud to be working side-by-side with Florida’s top truck drivers in this exciting Highway Watch partnership," said Colonel Hall. "We look forward to having these additional eyes and ears on our highways to help us respond better to drunk drivers, road rage, crimes, and other emergencies."

With the increasing integration of location and communications technologies in truck cabs, Florida’s truck drivers will have the ability to instantly and clearly report to the FHP what they see and also exactly where they are located. With Highway Watch’s advanced training, professional truck drivers will know what to look for as they travel throughout Florida, and the proper way to make the report to FHP. Highway Watch truck drivers will utilize the Star FHP (*347) cellular phone system for reporting purposes. FHP will assign Highway Watch participants special identification numbers in order to verify their identity when they call, and to be able to track the number of calls, disposition, etc., on the Patrol’s computer aided dispatch system.

"Just as neighbors work to keep their neighborhoods safe, Highway Watch’s trained professionals will work with the Florida Highway Patrol to keep the Sunshine State’s highways safe," said FTA President Webb. "Florida’s roads are their workplace."

The FTA will begin recruiting professional driver volunteers to attend a free training session conducted by FHP PIOs. The training session covers what to look out for on the highway, how emergencies should be reported, safe and responsible cellular phone use, and other safety topics. Highway Watch drivers will be trained to report traffic crashes, stranded motorists, criminal activity, medical emergencies, treacherous weather conditions, dangerous traffic congestion, road rage, drunk driving, and potential hazards such as abandoned vehicles and roadway debris.

 


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