Aggressive drivers, beware: Orlando police officers are hot on your trail
Published May 14, 2007
For readers who complain about seeing more aggressive driving on Central Florida roads, here's a bit of good news.
The Orlando Police Department recently cracked down on the behavior on Semoran Boulevard, and they plan to do more.
"We all know that aggressive driving encourages others to be aggressive," OPD Sgt. Barbara Jones said. "And we also know that reckless actions cause reckless consequences."
Aggressive driving, Jones said, can include speeding, improper lane changes, following too closely and not yielding the right of way.
During April, officers patrolling a five-mile stretch of Semoran between Lake Underhill Road and T.G. Lee Boulevard stopped 923 drivers, wrote 812 violations, gave 169 verbal warnings and made nine arrests.
Police will concentrate on other areas, Jones said, "as the need arises."
Now to this week's questions and some commuters who deal with a frustrating form of aggressive driving:
Dear Road Wise: I commute 24 miles each way on Interstate 4 between Orlando and Sanford. Lately, I've noticed drivers keep pushing to get ahead of others. More and more drivers are using the merging lanes and exit lanes to pass the rest of us who are patiently trying to get through the congestion. The cheaters create a hazard when they force their way back onto the main roadway just before they run out of room in their own lane. I see it all the time along the interchanges with State Road 436 and Maitland Boulevard. Is there a law that would penalize these drivers?
Dear Alan: You are describing what law-enforcement officers informally call "cutting in," and yes, it is against the law.
Orlando police Sgt. Scott Boos said law-enforcement officers can ticket drivers for two moving violations -- either improper lane change or impeding traffic flow. The second applies to drivers who use an exit-only lane to get around traffic and then cause exiting vehicles behind them to stop while they wait to cut in to the main road.
Either way, it will cost you $115.50 in Orange County.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kim Miller says it's a problem that easily can be solved by a little common sense and courtesy.
"It's like in kindergarten when you wait your turn in line for the water fountain," Miller said. "If you have a drivers license, you're old enough to know the right thing to do."
It's not a new concept. The Florida drivers manual from about 1950 put it like this: "Be the kind of a driver you expect the other fellow to be."
Dear Road Wise: I am fascinated by the work now occurring at I-4 and State Road 408. Is there a Web site that has a graphic of the final road configuration? I can't find it on the sites of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway or the Florida Department of Transportation. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
JOHN F. MAXWELL
Dear John: You probably will find what you need at Trans4mation.org. Look under "I-4 improvements," then "current construction," then "SR 408 interchange."
That should give you a good overview of the $120 million project that is supposed to be completed in early 2009. There are lots of views and details about the interchange, and you can sign up for regular updates, too.
Dear Road Wise: Am I the only one who has problems with shrubs so high and close to the road that it is hard to see the cross traffic? The shrubs make it necessary to move forward while hoping the front end of my car doesn't get hit just to see oncoming traffic. I notice this problem more and more. I thought it was just a problem in my four-door sedan, but even when I'm in my taller SUV, the problem remains. I love shrubs, but something needs to be done.
Dear Debra: You are not alone. I got a similar e-mail from Gary Alleccia of Longwood.
There are different rules, depending on whether the plants are on county or private property. But the bottom line is that plants should not obstruct the vision of drivers or be allowed to grow so high or thick they pose a danger. But county departments need an official complaint to get them on the case.
Here are a couple of phone numbers that should help you and others in reporting danger spots where plants block drivers' views.
In Seminole County, try 407-665-ROAD. For Orange County, call 407-836-7890.
Send questions, comments and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail to Road Wise, Orlando Sentinel, 633 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801. Please include your full name, phone number and city. We edit questions and comments for brevity.