SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Over the past six years, speeding tickets issued by the Florida Highway Patrol have decreased as the agency has been dealing with a shortage of troopers. That shortage may also be impacting accident response times.
Troopers say the agency does what it can to provide public safety patrolling areas of Interstate-75, responding to crashes as quickly as they can, but the motorists also can play a huge role.
Accidents are a common occurrence through stretches of Interstate 75. “From January through September we had over 80-million visitors so you have to remember we have almost 19-million residents here alone already,” Kenn Watson, FHP Trooper said.
Watson says with Florida now being the third most populated state, it causes an increase in highway traffic, but not a significant increase in troopers. “We’re doing everything we can to fill any vacant positions we have with the most qualified people that are out there.”
The shortage along with other variables can contribute to a slower response time after a crash. “What time of year is it?, what time of day is it? Is it a weekend, Is it a holiday? And because of these variables the times will change,”
A response time that may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, and it’s a big gap that can impact other agencies like the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s something we didn’t have to worry about. Ten years ago FHP worked traffic crashes, they handled traffic complaints and then we would handle everything else that we’re responsible for so we’re trying to do the best we can to handle both and to help out FHP.”
Watson does say that many of these accidents can be avoided. “The bottom line is this: We want you to put down those devices and we want you to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel. Your safety is our primary goal.”
Florida Highway Patrol has a recruiter who reaches out to potential applicants to try to build back that force essentially decreasing these response times.