Major Ernesto Duarte
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release November 23, 2004:
Tallahassee - The Florida Highway Patrol reminds all motorists that traffic will increase significantly along Florida's roadways during the upcoming 120-hour Thanksgiving holiday weekend, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, November 24, 2004, and continuing through midnight Sunday, November 28, 2004.
In an effort to increase the Patrol's presence on Florida roadways, Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, has suspended office operations for all sworn personnel effective at the close of the workday on Tuesday, November 23rd. All FHP sworn personnel normally assigned to administrative duties will be reassigned to patrol duties on high volume roadways throughout the five-day holiday period. "Even though the traditional holiday period is only Thursday through Sunday, many people will be traveling on Wednesday to visit family and friends - that's why every available trooper and supervisor is being assigned to patrol duties during this time," said Colonel Knight.
"The increased visibility our troopers provide during holiday periods is of immeasurable benefit to the motoring public. Our troopers, however, need the public's help to reduce fatalities and personal injury collisions. We ask motorists not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and not to drive tired or drowsy (fatigued). It is important that motorists take responsibility for their own driving habits and actions and obey all traffic laws. Our troopers will be out in force watching for those drivers who choose to break the law by driving in ways that endanger themselves and others," Knight added.
During last year's Thanksgiving holiday period, FHP troopers issued nearly 11,000 citations for traffic related violations. Of those, 8,744 drivers were cited for speeding, 2,080 for safety belt and child restraint violations, and 123 drivers were arrested for Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.). FHP troopers also provided roadside assistance to over 4,000 motorists.
Notably, during this same holiday period, 48 persons were killed in 47 crashes: 21 (72%) of those drivers and passengers who were killed in vehicles equipped with safety belts were not using them; also, 14 (29%) of the deaths were alcohol-related. As a result, troopers will be concentrating their enforcement efforts on impaired driving, unlawful speed, aggressive driving, and those who fail to buckle up or properly restrain their child passengers.
Motorists are urged to contact the FHP or local law enforcement officials when reporting an impaired, aggressive, or dangerous driver. To reach the Florida Highway Patrol, simply dial *FHP (*347) from a cellular phone. 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.
For real-time traffic and road condition reports, as well as maps and other safety tips, the public is urged to visit the FHP Home Page on the World Wide Web.