Chief Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release Thursday, August 29, 2002:
TALLAHASSEE: In an effort to continue the recent trend of reduced traffic deaths during major holiday periods, Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, announced today that all office operations for sworn personnel will be suspended from 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 29, 2002, through 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday, September 3, 2002. All uniformed members of the Patrol normally assigned to administrative duties will be assigned patrol duties for the four-day Labor Day holiday period.
"The emphasis we have placed on increased visibility and enforcement during major holiday periods over the last 15 months has paid immeasurable dividends for the public we serve," said Colonel Knight. During 144 hours of two previous major holidays (4th of July/48 hours and Memorial Day/96 hours), only 18 people were killed in traffic crashes, according to preliminary reports. Normally, 42-48 persons would be expected to die in traffic crashes during a six-day period. On average, 7-8 persons are killed every day in traffic crashes in Florida.
In addition, Colonel Knight has asked FHP Troop Commanders throughout Florida to ensure that aircraft enforcement is conducted in all field troops during the holiday period. FHP pilots will also be vigilant for motorists who may become stranded or disabled along Florida’s busy Interstate systems. Also, 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.
During last year’s Labor Day holiday, 22 persons were killed in traffic crashes during the 96-hour holiday weekend. This year, the 96-hour holiday begins at 0001 hours Friday, August 30, 2002 and extends through midnight, Monday, September 2, 2002. Last year, fifty-seven percent (57%) of the drivers and passengers killed in vehicles normally equipped with safety belts were not using them and thirty-six percent (36%) of the fatal crashes that occurred during the holiday were alcohol-related.
Additionally, Florida Highway Patrol troopers, along with other law enforcement agencies across the state, will actively participate in the Buckle Up Florida Labor Day Enforcement Wave from August 31st through September 8th. 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.
"We hope to make the last official holiday of the summer season a safe one for those traveling throughout Florida," added Colonel Knight.