Florida Highway Patrol

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

February is Hit and Run Awareness Month in Florida, a reminder for all motorists to “Stay at the Scene” when involved in a crash.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there were more than 98,000 hit-and-run crashes in Florida in 2017, with about a third investigated by state troopers. Each year, the percentage of accidents considered hit-and-run stays at about 25 percent.

“Which means it’s not getting any better right now; we’re doing our best,” said Major Warren Fast, Commander of Troop A which covers ten counties in the western Panhandle.

  Round two of frigid weather in the Florida Panhandle closely resembles that from a couple of weeks ago. But there is some light, and warmth, at the end of the tunnel.

Precipitation from the southernmost reaches of Winter Storm Inga led to a number of closings in northwest Florida the past couple of days: schools, roads, bridges and overpasses. Meteorologist Jeff Huffman at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network says the silver lining is that the rest of the winter mix is tracking to the north and east.

Florida Highway Patrol

The Florida Highway Patrol is working to address its current shortage of troopers throughout the state. Much of what they’re doing is aimed directly at the northwest region, which is one of the areas with the greatest need.

A series of recruitment videos is available on YouTube. The videos highlight the fast cars, motorcycles, military-style vehicles, and planes used for enforcement and show male and female troopers in action; making arrests, working traffic stops and wrecks, and firing off rounds during weapons training.

Emerald Coast Utilities Authority

Water, water everywhere in south Florida, but not a lot of it to drink. The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority is lending a hand, part of the assistance coming from the Florida Panhandle.

ECUA Executive Director Steve Sorrell says a mutual response team has been organized, acting on a request from the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) for lift station and maintenance crews to help with that city’s wastewater system.

As it begins its trek through Louisiana, Tropical Storm Harvey is being felt across the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama.

Rain and plenty of it, compliments of Harvey, is forecast to inundate the area at least through Thursday across southeast Mississippi, southwest Alabama and northwest Florida.

“We’ve already received in the Pensacola Metro four to six inches; we’ve seen a couple of isolated gauge reports of seven inches,” says meteorologist Jason Beaman at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

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.


It doesn’t happen very often, but the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama could get a taste of Old Man Winter this weekend, as parts further north get hit even harder.

Meteorologists are watching a cold front, part of Winter Storm Helena, that’s forecast to ride the Jet Stream to the South and East later this week, bringing with it a massive amount of cold air.

“[It] will be accompanied by a pretty good chance of precipitation along with it, that we’ll be continuing to monitor over the next couple of days,” says Cody Lindsey at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

John-Mark Kuznietsov / https://unsplash.com/photos/gtCWBwbZNpM

  Nearly 43 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for their Independence Day revelry, according to AAA.

If the auto club’s projection pans out, the period between Thursday, June 30 and Monday, July 4 will see 500,000 more travelers than last year. Eighty-four percent will travel by automobile, and will continue to benefit from continued low gas prices, the lowest in 11 years, and other positive economic factors.

Photo via Flickr// dhendrix73 / https://flic.kr/p/bwjp7D

Poor vehicle maintenance, shoddy record keeping and a host of code violations were uncovered during an investigation of G.B. Green Construction, after its dump truck hit a school bus in late August.

Sixteen students and driver Harriet Collins were injured in the crash when the dump truck – driven by Abraham Larry Jr. – ran a red light at Pace Boulevard and Jordan Street, striking and overturning the bus.

Escambia School District


The Escambia County School District is calling for an investigation of the firm that owns the dump truck which hit a school bus on Thursday. Sixteen students and the bus driver were injured.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the dump truck ran a red light at West Jordan Street and Pace Boulevard, striking the bus on the rear left side and causing it to flip over and hit a utility pole.

North Escambia.com


Thursday’s school bus accident in Pensacola – which injured 16 students and the bus driver -- is sparking renewed interest in school bus safety, from both inside and outside the vehicle.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a dump truck ran a red light at West Jordan Street and Pace Boulevard around 3:20 p.m., striking the bus on the rear left side and causing it to flip over and hit a utility pole.

Rob Doss, Transportation Director for the Escambia School District, says the accident report questions the state of the dump truck.

Photo via Flickr// haljackey / https://flic.kr/p/9ykzJ8

The number of  Americans hitting the road this Independence Day weekend is expected to be up 0.07% compared to last year, according to AAA.

The auto club projects 41.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from their homes during the holiday weekend, which runs from Wednesday July 1 to Sunday July 5. AAA’s Mark Jenkins says 85%, or about 35 million travelers, will drive to their destinations.

Photo via Flickr// State Farm

We are now in the “100 Deadliest Days” on the highways, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when crash fatalities historically climb. AAA’s focus in that period is on drivers between 15-19 years of age.

According to a 2013 study by the auto club’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, roughly 75% of the 372,000 injuries and 2,900 fatalities in auto accidents in which a teenager was driving, were people other than the driver.

Photo via Flickr// me and the sysop / https://flic.kr/p/6KZhTF

The Florida Highway Patrol is joining with other law enforcement in fighting the increasing number of hit-and-run accidents in the state. The program is dubbed “Hit-and-Run: Bad to Worse.”

Officials say there were a record 800,000 hit-and-run crashes across Florida in 2014, up seven percent from the previous year. And the number of such accidents resulting in fatalities rose by 23%.

FHP Lt. Steve Preston says there are many reasons for people choose not to stay at the scene of an accident, in which they’re involved.

Photo via Flickr//Rahull Verma

Nearly 35 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, according to AAA. That’s the highest volume for the holiday since 2008, and 1.3 % more than a year ago.

Summertime destinations are the same on Labor Day as they are on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July: beaches, theme parks, and visiting family and friends.

Photo via Instagram// @heiditakacs

AAA is predicting the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since the end of the Great Recession.

Just over 36 million Americans are expected to journey 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and next Monday. Mark Jenkins with the auto club’s Tampa office says that’s up one and a half percent from a year ago.

“We had a very harsh winter season, and a lot of people weren’t able to travel much,” said Jenkins. “This the first opportunity for many people to get out there and take that trip.”


Officials in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties join the rest of the Florida Panhandle in bracing for a rare taste of winter precipitation.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the western Florida Panhandle for all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning, as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico joins forces with another blast of Arctic air. That, says Dave Eversole at the National Weather Service, means sleet, freezing rain and possibly some snow.