Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dr. Delay: Amber and Silver alerts are meant for quick action

A reader recently sent a question that prompts the Doc to remind motorists of the importance of the Amber and Silver alerts on highway message boards. It's easy to become preoccupied with the task of driving and not paying close attention to the illuminated signs, but the alert system is a means for law enforcement to get information out to the public quickly regarding missing children and seniors.

A key point is that alerts posted on Florida's roads must meet specific criteria, so if you see a Silver Alert or an Amber Alert you can be certain that law enforcement has reason to believe that someone is in real danger.

Sure, we often read in the paper about alerts that have been canceled because kids have been found at a friend's house or at the mall.

Some readers have actually written the Doc complaining that the alerts prevent them from seeing the usual display of approximate travel times to major landmarks.

One reader wrote: "Lately when the DOT runs Silver or Amber alerts on the over-the-road signs, they seem not to post travel times to various locations. Is there a way for them to alternate them?"

We asked Kris Carson of the Florida DOT about the system and how it operates statewide. Carson said that because the program is relatively new, the DOT and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with other law enforcement agencies, are working together to make adjustments to the system and how the message boards are used.

"Recently, we agreed to use a more regional approach to Silver and Amber alerts," Carson said. "In the case of a Silver Alert in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, all the signs … will display the Silver Alert message. A limited amount of signs in the remainder of the state would have alert messages. The majority of remaining signs again would display travel times and traffic information since we consider that very important information to our traveling public."

Regarding the suggestion of alternating Silver or Amber alerts with traffic information on the same signs, it's not the DOT's current practice to do so. Carson noted that the first hours after a person's disappearance or abduction are critical, so alternating the alert message with traffic information would detract from the original purpose.

I'm happy to hear this, and I hope this practice remains. I think most drivers will agree that when we look at the issue with some perspective — what if it were my kid missing? — the prospect of not being able to get a ballpark estimate of how many minutes it will take to cross the Howard Frankland Bridge won't seem so awful.

Readers have Ideas for safer I-375 exit ramp

Many Dr. Delay readers have sent suggestions on how to improve the I-375 exit ramp, all of which we shared with the DOT.

Reader Paul Cooper, who travels the road daily, wrote: "The left lane, considered the fast lane, should become exit-only beginning well north of the exit ramp, and the 50 mph speed should be posted earlier."

Cooper's suggestion is one that was echoed by several readers. But DOT says the left lane cannot function as an exit-only lane to I-375.

"At about a half mile from the I-375 exit there are four lanes provided, traffic in the left lane must exit at I-375, and the next lane over is the continuation of the 'option lane' to either exit onto I-375 or continue heading south on I-275. Therefore, if you defined the far left lane as exit-only, traffic in the 'option lane' would not know that this lane also can exit onto I-375. This would result in unnecessary lane changes, and reduce the capacity of this exit ramp," said Carson.

Suggestions about improved signs are being implemented. Carson told us that the DOT will replace the existing EXIT 50 MPH warning sign with a 50 MPH "reduced speed ahead" sign panel. Two large 50 MPH Speed Limit signs will be posted on either side of the ramp before the curve, and delineators will be mounted to the top of the barrier wall on the right side of the ramp curve in order to better enhance the visibility of the curve at night.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.

Dr. Delay: Amber and Silver alerts are meant for quick action 03/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  2. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    Jason Jerome Springer, 39, is accused of threatening to kill a U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, according to a federal indictment.  |Hernando County Sheriff's Office photo]
  3. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  4. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]