Troopers beef up patrols in work areas as part of speeding, aggressive driving crackdown

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Highway Patrol troopers are beefing up patrols at work zones Tuesday throughout Central Florida to try to catch speeders and aggressive drivers.

The weeklong crackdown will be happening in every Central Florida county.

Troopers said it’s an effort to save not just the lives of drivers, but of construction crews.

“If you’re driving in Volusia, Lake, Osceola, Orange, Sumter, there’s construction somewhere,” said Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol.

She and others are on the lookout for aggressive drivers in work zones.

“What we see people doing is waiting to the last minutes to merge,” she said. “If there’s a lane shift or its merging down to one lane and they’re driving aggressively.”

Deputies released video from their helicopter that showed a driver speeding through traffic at 100 mph. The driver also used the shoulder of the road to get around cars on eastbound I-4 in Seminole County.

“This is a typical day on I-4 and this is one of the reasons we're out here,” said Rusty Montgomery with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

Message boards will be placed along the road, along with radar sensors, which determine how fast or slow traffic is moving and can update the boards up to 3 miles away, officials said.

"They are designed specifically for work zones and the fact that they are on trailers means we can move them as conditions change," I-4 Ultimate maintenance manager David Feise said.

The boards should be introduced to the roadways in the next few weeks, officials said.

Four people died in crashes one weekend in Seminole County, which helped spark the new effort to crackdown on speeders.

"The problems are growing greater because of the construction, so that's why we are going to start focusing out here," Steven Montiero of FHP said.

Last year, Eyewitness News talked to Chris Cattaneo, 23, who was struck in a work zone on I-4.

Records show there were 6,500 crashes last year in active work zones in the United States.

From March, 2015 to this March, crashes have increased by 18 percent and deaths have increased from two to six.

“A lot of drivers get frustrated when they're going through lane shifts, etc., and what happens when it opens up is they're either trying to make up time or their aggressive tendencies come out,” said Montes.

Deputies said they plan to increase patrols in unmarked cars.

Troopers said going 10 miles over the speed limit in Orange County is a $204 ticket. With workers present, that becomes $408.