Florida remains a popular destination for not only vacationers but also future residents. Whether the motivation is no state taxes or escaping cold climates, a study revealed that nearly 1,000 people move to the Sunshine State every day.
While no one in The Florida Highway Patrol would discourage out-of-state residents from becoming Floridians, the influx creates problems on roads throughout the state. The most considerable concern is that the current “boom” is outpacing the number of troopers necessary to police the highways combined with an alarming increase in trooper resignations.
Fewer Troopers. More Dangers.
A proactive approach to patrolling the roads increases the odds of catching excessive speeders and drunk drivers. However, the deficit in staffing causes officers to be more reactive. Instead of catching reckless or impaired motor vehicle operators, they often deal with the aftermath of serious, if not deadly, accidents instead.
Various factors play a role in the loss of troopers. Even with recent pay raises, trooper salaries remain relatively low, particularly for a dangerous job that requires working evenings, weekends, and holidays. Not to mention shifts lasting up to 16 hours to fill the gaps and a lack of concrete career development plans.
The staffing shortage is also trickling down to sheriff’s offices, which now have to assist with motor vehicle accidents in addition to their current workload.
The stakes are high. While no one wants to be pulled over for a traffic violation, troopers are needed to protect vehicle drivers and passengers from potentially deadly dangers on Florida roads. Raising awareness for motorists to avoid speeding and to refrain from driving while under the influence help, but more needs to be done.
Having more officers behind the wheel can go a long way to ensure safer roads. Instead of getting away with criminal activity, reckless or drivers under the influence will be taken into custody in increased numbers by a highway patrol department with appropriate staffing levels.