Speeding fines to rise $50 in risky I-95 zones
By Chuck Mcginness
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Beginning May 1, drivers nabbed for speeding on Interstate 95 in the Boynton Beach area will have to fork over $50 more in fines.
The 6-mile section between Gateway Boulevard and the Delray Beach city limits (mile markers 53 to 59) is included in a test program called Enhanced Penalty Zones.
The intent is to slow motorists in areas with higher-than-average crash rates related to speeding, said Marianne Trussell, the state Department of Transportation's chief safety officer. Other Enhanced Penalty Zones will be set up on I-95 in Brevard and Duval counties.
In 2004, the most recent year for which crash statistics are available, there were 79 speed-related crashes on the 43-mile section of I-95 from the Martin County line to Glades Road. Seven people were killed and 80 injured in those accidents.
"They didn't want to have one of these zones in a construction area," DOT spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher said. "They chose an area that was far enough from construction so it would be a clear area."
Currently, the fine for doing 75 to 79 mph on this stretch of I-95 is $160.50. With the extra charge, it will be $210.50.
Twenty-five signs have been erected along the highway to warn drivers that they will pay more money if caught speeding. Some signs read, "Speed Limit 65, Speeding Fines Higher." Other signs at the beginning and end of the 6-mile zone are bright yellow to grab motorists' attention, Kelleher said.
State lawmakers approved the program last year. Reps. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, and Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, sponsored the bill.
Half of the money from the higher fines will be used to cover the Medicaid costs of brain and spinal cord injury patients in nursing homes. The other half will go to trauma centers in the participating counties.
The new signs will be unveiled April 2. For the first month, Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies on the interstate will hand out warnings. After that, it's no excuses.
The state will compile a report on the effectiveness of the higher fines in reducing fatalities. If successful, the program could be expanded to highways throughout the state where speed-related crashes are a problem.