Major Ernesto Duarte
Florida Highway Patrol
For Release December 21, 2004:
Tallahassee - Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, announced today the FHP’s statewide traffic enforcement plans for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Troopers throughout the State of Florida will be on alert during the upcoming holiday season, seeking to provide the safest possible traveling environment for Florida’s residents and visitors. FHP will implement zero tolerance enforcement strategies targeting aggressive and hazardous violations throughout the state. Troopers will place special emphasize on aggressive driving, speed, alcohol, and safety restraint violations. However, in order to significantly reduce the number of traffic related injuries and deaths, the FHP needs the public’s assistance. “The need for travelers to drive in a careful and prudent manner, to stay sober, awake, and remain alert during this holiday season is imperative,” said Colonel Knight. The Patrol would also like to raise awareness of pedestrian and bicycling risks, since safe walking and riding behaviors would prevent many of the deaths that occur each year on Florida roadways.
This year’s Christmas holiday period will begin at 00:01 hours on Friday, December 24, 2004, and end at midnight, Sunday, December 26, 2004. The New Year’s holiday period will run from 00:01 hours on Friday, December 31, 2004, and end at midnight, Sunday, January 2, 2005.
Last year, 18 persons were killed in 13 traffic crashes during the 48-hour Christmas holiday. Also, 25 people were killed in 20 traffic crashes during the 48-hour New Year’s holiday. As in the past, Colonel Knight has instructed all available troopers and supervisors to discontinue office duties, and heavily patrol interstates, major state roads, and Florida’s turnpike throughout both holiday periods.
Seeking to maximize traffic enforcement and educational efforts before the peak driving periods, the Florida Highway Patrol will be conducting the third phase of Operation Safe Ride on Wednesday and Thursday, December 22-23, 2004. The theme of this campaign will be Aggressive Driving. All ten FHP field troops will participate in Operation Safe Ride, focusing their enforcement efforts on every interstate, Florida’s Turnpike, and other major state roads in Florida where aggressive and hazardous moving violations are prevalent.
Safety tips when traveling: Allow enough time to get to your destination; always use seatbelts and child restraint devices; take frequent breaks or rotate drivers during extended drives; maintain a safe distance between vehicles; obey the posted speed limits, use turn signals; don’t consume alcohol or drugs and drive; on interstate and freeways, drive in the right lane and pass in the left lane, and be considerate of others during your travels.
Motorists with cellular telephones are encouraged to report drunk and/or aggressive drivers and other highway emergencies by dialing *FHP (*347); doing so will connect the caller to the closest Florida Highway Patrol communications center. The call is toll-free and callers can remain anonymous. Motorists who experience car trouble on the highway or otherwise need assistance from the FHP are also encouraged to call *FHP.