This past week I had to drive to Orlando, and once again, people just don’t pay attention when driving especially on Florida’s Turnpike. I saw people not wearing seat belts, people doing 80 or 90 mph.
But what really got me on this trip was seeing people drive so close to emergency vehicles, police and highway patrol cars — without a care for safety. And what can I say about parents who don’t have their children buckled up or parents not wearing seat belts? Folks, Florida's primary enforcement safety-belt law took effect in 2009, so let’s get with the program. The life you save will be yours or your child’s.
So once again I hope to educate our readers on Florida’s most important “Move Over” law, for the safety of all first responders.
The law requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road.
Here is a summary, courtesy of the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
▪ If you are driving on a road with multiple lanes going in the same direction, and you approach an emergency vehicle parked along the roadway, you must move out of the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
▪ If you are unable to move over safely, or if you are on a road with only one lane in each direction, you must slow down to a speed 20 miles per hour below the speed limit, unless a law-enforcement officer tells you otherwise. If the speed limit is 20 mph, you must slow down to 5 mph.
▪ If you don't move over, the penalty is about $149, depending on the county, and three points on your license.
Readers, forward this to everyone you know.
Folks, I know that driving in Miami-Dade or anywhere can be a nightmare sometimes, but we really need to take into account that cars can kill people. I hold my breathe every day on the Palmetto Expressway due to the “almost” incidents that occur in front of me. So please: Take it slow and be aware of what is happening around you. And be courteous on the road.
The other issue that bothered me while on the road:
Every time I stopped at a rest stop, people left their car windows open and all their belongings inside the car. This makes offers criminals an open season if they wish to take your stuff.
Also, I saw women leave their purses in the car while they went to the restroom. Lord o Lord how many times do we have to repeat “Take those purses with you?”
I approached one family and mentioned one of them should stay by the car. Their response: “Oh, this is Florida. It’s safe here.” I couldn’t believe their answer.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.