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FHP on the lookout for speeders, impaired drivers over the holidays

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
(Credit FHP)

While holiday travel is expected to decline this year because of the pandemic, Florida Highway Patrol is out in force Thanksgiving week on interstates and major highways, focusing on speeders, seat-belt violations and impaired drivers.

Last year, Florida had more than 10,000 traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving travel period, which starts on the Friday before Thanksgiving and continues through the Sunday after the holiday.

Those crashes led to 392 serious bodily injuries and 98 deaths. Troopers wrote nearly 70,000 traffic citations during the 2019 Thanksgiving period.

“During the holiday season, people want to have fun with their families and maybe want to party a little bit,” FHP Capt. Peter Bergstresser said. “But you always want to be cognizant that if you are impaired, or if you’ve had too much to drink, you do not want to drive that vehicle down the road.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving held a press conference Tuesday urging people to stay safe and sober on the roads as well. The director said the number of people taking drugs or drinking before getting behind the wheel is up nearly 15% in 2020.

“We see that drunk driving crashes have gone up per miles driven,” said Lorie Burke, the executive director of MADD in Southwest Florida. “Fatalities and injuries have gone up per miles driven, so although particularly when we were shut down or had different mandates we saw less cars in the road, we did not see less crashes, injuries or fatalities.”

The AAA auto club is expecting a significant decline in holiday travel this year because of the pandemic.

Among people who do travel, 95% of them will drive to their destinations, while holiday air travel is projected to be about half of what it usually is.

Before recent guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging people to stay home for Thanksgiving, AAA anticipated a 10 percent decrease in travel. But AAA spokesman W.D. Williams said the decrease now is expected to be larger.