With Thanksgiving just a few days away, people will be out on the roads driving to visit family. Last Thanksgiving in Florida, law enforcement worked 9,906 crashes. The Florida Highway Patrol wants to remind drivers of a few safety tips they will be out enforcing during holiday travels. Troopers invited us along for a first-hand look at what they’ll be looking for.
“Typically, anytime there’s a holiday, we have an influx of traffic,” Lt. Eddie Elmore said. “Everyone’s going to see families. With the gas prices being down like they are, we’re expecting to see an increase in travelers this year.”
With more travelers on the road, there’s a greater chance for wrecks. The Florida Highway Patrol wants to remind drivers there are a few easy ways to stay safe.
“It’s very important to stay away from your cell phones,” Lt. Elmore said. “If you have a passenger, utilize your passenger to send text messages, to adjust the thermostat, to adjust the radio.”
After talking to Lieutenant Elmore, the CW55’s Hayley Minogue rode along with Tim Hendrix for about an hour to see how troopers enforce these laws on the highways. They weren’t out 30 minutes before clocking someone going 83 on I-10, where 70 MPH is the limit.
Trooper Hendrix drove the car through the median, and took off, driving nearly 125 MPH to catch up with the car heading towards the Florida/Alabama border. When Trooper Hendrix pulled the driver over, he explained why he would be getting a ticket, printed the citation, and told the driver to slow down and travel safely.
Speeding isn’t the only thing troopers will be looking for during Thanksgiving travels. Last year, 84 people lost their lives during Thanksgiving travels and 17 of those people were not wearing seatbelts. Trooper Hendrix shared a story about one of the worst next of kin notifications he’s ever had to deliver.
“That actual occasion last year, where I stood in front of the Christmas tree, that was an individual that lost their life cause they weren’t wearing a seatbelt,” Trooper Hendrix said. “It wasn’t that bad of a crash but because the seatbelt wasn’t on and it was on the interstate, that person lost their life.”
Trooper Hendrix does his job with a smile, saying, “If you’re out here to be a bully, you can do that, but you’re not going to have an enjoyable career.”
He wants to work to leave people with a positive impression. “You end up with a friend by the time the traffic stop is over with,” he said.
Florida Highway Patrol is also encouraging drivers to check weather conditions and leave plenty of time for travel. To report impaired or aggressive driving, dial *FHP (*347).