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Operation Safe Ride kicks-off FHP’s enforcement
efforts in advance of the heavily traveled
Thanksgiving holiday weekend

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Major Ernesto Duarte
Florida Highway Patrol

For Release November 21, 2006:

Tallahassee – Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, announced today that the seventh phase of Operation Safe Ride, a long-term FHP enforcement campaign that focuses on varying traffic themes, will target unlawful speed violators. This operation, which is scheduled for November 22, 2006, will kick-off FHP’s enforcement efforts in advance of the heavily traveled Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The operation’s goals are to increase compliance of posted speed limits, and to reduce the number of speed-related deaths and injuries in the state. “Greater compliance to speed limits would go a long way towards curbing the number of traffic related deaths in our state,” said Colonel Knight. “Motorists must recognize that speeding, in fact, increases the likelihood of a crash and its severity,” added Knight.

The Florida Highway Patrol also 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 22, 2006, and continuing through midnight Sunday, November 26, 2006. In an effort to increase the Patrol's presence on Florida roadways, Colonel Knight has suspended office operations for all sworn personnel effective at the close of the workday on Tuesday, November 21, 2006. 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. "Based on our experience, we know that a black and tan patrol car tends to bring the best driving behavior out of people…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 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 said.

During last year's Thanksgiving holiday period, FHP troopers issued over 9,000 citations for traffic related violations. Of those, 7,368 drivers were cited for speeding, 1,630 for safety belt and child restraint violations, and 88 drivers were arrested for Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.). FHP troopers also provided roadside assistance to over 3,587 motorists.

Notably, during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, 66 persons were killed in 54 crashes: 27 (71%) of those drivers and passengers who were killed in vehicles equipped with safety belts were not using them; also, 30 (45%) 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.

In conjunction with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday traveling period, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Florida Highway Patrol are highlighting Florida’s new emergency contact information system. Available to all individuals with valid Florida driver licenses and identification cards, the new system allows Floridians to voluntarily provide emergency contact information online. Law enforcement officers have immediate access to this information in case of emergencies. During a recent event, Lt. Governor Toni Jennings entered her emergency contact information into the system.

“Taking just a few minutes to enter this information online provides peace of mind and the knowledge that loved ones and close friends will be only a phone call away if needed,” said Lt. Governor Jennings. “I encourage all Florida residents to participate in this innovative new program.”

Individuals with a Florida driver license or identification card can visit www.flhsmv.gov to enter their emergency contact information. This information will be immediately available to law enforcement officials.

Motorists are also 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 website at www.flhsmv.gov/fhp. Where available, motorists with a cellular phone can also dial 511.



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