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A Times Editorial

Keep Road Rangers on patrol in Florida

Despite dealing with overwhelming budget woes, the state needs to try to keep Florida's roving highway Samaritans on the road.

The Road Rangers program — funded by the state Legislature through the Department of Transportation — has helped about 2-million Florida motorists with flat tires and empty gas tanks since it was created in 2000, free of charge. Rangers also block off accident scenes to protect state troopers and rescue workers from the cars whizzing by.

But last year the program was sideswiped by a 50 percent budget cut, forcing the Rangers to cut hours and numbers of vehicles on the streets. Next year, as money gets tighter, the Rangers could be taken off the roads for good.

"In tight budget times, it's hard to justify having somebody out there just to give out gas and change tires," Terry Hensley, a state transportation official, told the Times.

What about the potential of protecting hundreds of lives?

Ranger programs are now considering putting advertising on its trucks to make up some of that money. The program costs $21-million per year, less than half of 1 percent of the Department of Transportation's $8-billion budget.

If the program can at least keep the $11-million it received this year, Rangers can keep patrolling the roadways by supplementing funding with advertising revenue. And if necessary, Rangers could be limited to the busiest traffic times.

Rangers protect the lives of law enforcement officers, not to mention getting stranded motorists back on the road quickly and keeping roadways clear.

Even a lone Ranger would be better than nothing.

Keep Road Rangers on patrol in Florida 07/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2008 7:44pm]
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