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FHP Will Increase Visibility for July 4th Holiday

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Contact:
Chief Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol

For Release July 3, 2002:

Motorists are reminded to "Move Over" when approaching stopped emergency vehicles

TALLAHASSEE: As many as 200 additional uniformed Florida Highway Patrol officers may be on patrol during the 4th of July holiday, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2002. The official holiday period will end at midnight, Thursday, July 4, 2002. Fifteen (15) people are expected to die in traffic crashes during the official 48-hour holiday period, based on fatality experience during the five previous Independence Day holidays from 1997-2001.

As in the past, Colonel Chris Knight, FHP Director, has asked that office operations for all sworn personnel be discontinued, effective at the close of the workday on Tuesday, July 2nd. All FHP sworn personnel normally assigned to administrative duties will be reassigned to patrol duties beginning Wednesday, July 3rd, through Sunday, July 7th. "Even though the official holiday period is only Wednesday and Thursday, it's safe to assume that many people will be off on Friday as part of an extended holiday," said Colonel Knight.

"The increased visibility that our troopers have provided during previous holiday periods has provided immeasurable benefits to the motoring public. By having all FHP sworn personnel perform patrol duties Wednesday through Sunday, we will continue our commitment to highway safety through increased visibility and enforcement," Knight added.

During last year's 48-hour 4th of July holiday, 20 persons were killed in traffic crashes in Florida; 57% of those drivers and passengers who were killed in vehicles normally equipped with safety belts were not using them; also, 53% of the fatal traffic crashes were alcohol-related. Troopers will be concentrating their enforcement efforts on drunk, speeding, and aggressive drivers, and those who fail to buckle up or properly restrain their child passengers.

Drivers are also being reminded to "move over" or "slow down" when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle that is stopped on a highway in Florida. The "Move Over Act", passed during the 2002 session of the Florida Legislature, was signed by Governor Jeb Bush on May 1, 2002.

There are several important provisions concerning this new law, which became effective July 1st. On interstate highways or other highways with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle, and except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, drivers approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on a roadway with their emergency lights activated, will be required to vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, as soon as it is safe to do so.

When approaching a law enforcement or other authorized emergency vehicle parked on a two-lane roadway (not part of an interstate or divided highway) with their emergency lights activated, and except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, drivers will be required to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater; or travel at 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less.

During the 5-year period of 1996-2000, motorists in Florida crashed into working law enforcement vehicles that were stopped/parked along Florida roadways 1,793 times resulting in five officers being killed and 419 others injured.

Motorists are again being encouraged to call *FHP on their cellular phone to report drunk, aggressive, or other dangerous drivers. Callers can remain anonymous. Motorists who experience car trouble on the highway or otherwise need assistance from the FHP are also encouraged to use *FHP.

NOTE: A complete listing of FHP's statewide holiday enforcement plans (broken down by Region), and last year's fatality statistics are attached to this release.

 


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