FHP Cracks Down on Unsafe Truck Drivers

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

Truck drivers will want to be on their best driving behavior Thursday and Friday. That's if they don't want to get caught in the Florida Highway Patrol's latest crackdown against unsafe truck drivers.

FHP Trooper Dale Whiddon scans Interstate 10 for unsafe drivers every day, but Thursday he and his fellow troopers are especially on the lookout for aggressive truck drivers.

"So far, it looks good. They're spreading out, not trying to crowd each other, not following each other too close," says FHP trooper, Dale Ghiddon.

Troopers say the statewide effort against aggressive truckers is in response to the rising number of complaints against them.

According to industry experts, a new federal law may be to blame for that increase. The law was intended reduce trucker fatigue by limiting the number of hours drivers can be on duty, but it may actually be forcing truckers to drive faster to make their deliveries.

Truckers may not agree with the way troopers interpret their driving, but they do agree that truckers who speed and drive aggressively are likely motivated by job pressure.

"You've got to get from point A to point B. You load and they tell you have to have it there, and then when you get unload you have to get back to point B so you can get a decent load, so you can make a living," says Mark Watson, a Graceville truck driver.

"They have deadlines, and we understand that. They're trying to get from point A to point B," Lt. Jerry Maddux with FHP says.

The Highway Patrol's crackdown against aggressive truckers will continue until Friday. Truckers meanwhile will either obey all traffic laws or risk being stopped.

Ghiddon says Mark Watson was following another big rig too closely. Ghiddon gave Watson a break, issuing only a warning. Others won't be as lucky.

State troopers are using unmarked cars, video cameras, even planes to carry out this crackdown on unsafe truck drivers.


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