The phrase “Arrive Alive” once adorned Florida highway signs and souvenir license plates. The Florida Highway Patrol is introducing a new incarnation of that message.
At issue is a 20 percent increase in fatal crashes since 2014. FHP reports a jump in the state’s traffic deaths in 2016 with more than 3,000 fatalities. That’s the deadliest year since 2007. Through January 30 of this year, there have already been 143 traffic fatalities.
“We’ve revitalized our “Arrive Alive” campaign, and our goal is to reverse this trend and attempt to greatly reduce the occurrences of serious crashes,” said Major Warren Fast, Commander of the Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop A which stretches from Pensacola to Panama City.
“We’ve identified target areas located in each county, where serious injury and fatal crashes occur most frequently,” Fast said. “These identified target areas, or ‘Hot Spots,’ are where we’ll focus our efforts through education, high visibility, enforcement, and engineering efforts.”
Fast was quick to add that this is not an enforcement initiative. Rather, it’s a different approach to reducing traffic accidents, using a sustained effort instead of executing a single enforcement plan.
Arrive Alive is a partnership between various highway safety, law enforcement and engineering entities -- including the Florida Sheriffs’ Association. Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander says this takes community-oriented policing to another level.
“And certainly when we’re able to do that through sharing data, resources, and just combining our efforts to add extra eyes and ears on the street,” said Alexander. “What it also does is allows us to have a collective impact on the crime and the quality of safety for the citizens we serve.”
But there appears to be more work to do in making Florida roads safer, according to the annual Roadmap Report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
“Deaths are up in Florida, and yet there are still a number of life-saving laws that are not on the books,” said Cathy Chase, a Vice President with the Washington DC-based watchdog group, identifies Florida as one of the worst states when it comes to legislating road safety.
“Florida is lacking a rear, primary-enforcement seat belt law,” said Chase. “An all-rider motorcycle helmet law, a comprehensive booster seat law, a number of teen driving provisions, an ignition interlock law for all [criminal] offenders, and an all-driver text messaging provision that’s primary enforcement.”
The 2017 Florida Legislative Session kicks off in March. Two bills are expected to be filed that would seek to make texting behind the wheel a primary offense, and deal with underage drivers who text.
Chase calls Arrive Alive a great campaign to get out the word about highway safety.
“We would like to see the Legislature bolster that campaign, by moving on some of the bills that have been introduced, as well as stopping a current repeal attempt to get rid of the red-light camera program,” said Chase.
The Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop-A is targeting 34 “Hot Spot” roadways in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.