This time of year can be especially stressful on the roads as you race around trying to get everything done in time for the holidays, but the results can be deadly.
The Florida Highway Patrol is using a brand new tool this month to fight road rage and aggressive driving, and you probably won’t even see it coming.
Trooper Roger Thomas has seen it all in his three years patrolling Florida’s highways.
“Excessive speed, following too closely, unsafe lane changes.”
But now he’ll be able to fight back with the element of surprise. Trooper Thomas is slipping behind the wheel of one of 18 new unmarked, high-performance Mercury Marauders.
The Marauders will patrol the state’s most heavily traveled highways, looking for aggressive drivers and trying to stop road rage before it’s too late.
Col. Chris Knight of the FHP says to buckle up.
“It’s mainly our urban areas where you got all the traffic and people become impatient. They’ve got to get from point A to point B and don’t leave themselves enough time.”
Trooper Thomas remembers one case where that frustration turned deadly.
“The guy was following him too closely and the guy pulled up along side of him, on the inside lane, told him to pull over. He pulled over and the guy shot him like two times right in front of his daughter.”
The Florida Highway Patrol has been aggressively pursuing aggressive drivers, writing 38 percent more citations this year than last, but prosecution is inconsistent. That’s where the Marauders come in.
The Marauders are equipped with state-of-the-art video and audio equipment. A cruise cam records the reckless driving, so there’s no dispute when the case comes before a judge, and since they’re unmarked, you won’t know if that sedan you just cut off is a trooper.
The 18 Marauders were paid for by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. They’re valued at about $40,000 apiece.
The Marauders will be deployed to the following cities/counties:
1 in Gainesville
2 in Jacksonville
3 in Orlando
1 in Brevard
1 in Pinellas
1 in Tampa
1 in Venice
1 in Ft. Myers
3 in Miami
3 in Davie
1 in Lantana
Notice there are not any of the special cars assigned to anywhere in northwest Florida, at least not at this time.