The Florida Department of Transportation encourages drivers to be more aware while traveling after a contracted maintenance crew was hit while picking up litter on Saturday.
FDOT says the crew was picking up litter along I-75 south near mile marker 112, just north of the Immokalee Road exit, when they were hit.
Florida Highway Patrol said a 56-year-old and a 52-year-old were in a ‘Gator vehicle’ attempting to cross I-75 when they were hit by a van.
“They were transported to the hospital. And we are certainly praying for their full and complete recovery,” said Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Greg Bueno.
This comes as FDOT is working to fix the problem of increasing debris on the interstate between Naples and Tampa. FDOT says debris ranges from car parts, pallets, plastic bags, glass, metal, and bottles and cans. They say the increase is due to a high volume of unsecured loads.
They have deployed additional crews to clean up the mess and are working to hire even more.
Bueno said it would also help if people who are hauling any kind of junk would secure their load.
“If we take out the element of people dumping trash, couches, barbeque grills, tires, just everyday garbage on our interstate. Obviously, it mitigates the chances in the prevalence of the trash being on our interstate,” Bueno said.
According to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 50 first responders were hit and killed while working on the side of the highway in 2022, even though all 50 states have move-over laws in place.
Florida’s move-over law says that if law enforcement, first responders, or any kind of working crew are stopped on the side of the road, drivers have to move over a lane. If they can’t, they have to slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit.
The law has been in place since 2002, but close calls continue to happen.
“We go to 911 calls for a living, and we see tragedies, and a lot of times there’s a tone deafness there until it happens to you or your family,” said Bueno.
Bueno said he hopes when people hear stories like this, they realize the importance of protecting crews, other drivers, and our roadways.