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Speed checkpoints could be on your radar

It's always good to see traffic enforcement events turn out successfully. Unless, of course, you're one of the drivers who gets pulled over.

But a series of speed checkpoints held Jan. 23 across the county yielded solid results for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Eastern Hillsborough drivers certainly made their presence felt. Seventy-five drivers were pulled over on State Road 60; 48 met their fate on U.S. 301; and 24 were brought to justice on Lumsden Road.

In hindsight, they could have avoided the ticket.

Since 2002, the Sheriff's Office has made a greater effort to publicize major countywide traffic events through its Sheriff's Traffic Operations Program, known as STOP.

A list of the intersections under watch is published in newspapers and is available online at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/. On the right-hand side of the page, click on "Traffic Enforcement Events" for information on upcoming stops.

Checking this list isn't a sure way to avoid a ticket. It's impossible to list every time an officer plans to park under a bridge with a radar gun.

But if you knew you were going to be driving on Lumsden Jan. 23, and you knew there would be a traffic stop on Lumsden that day, odds are you would drive the speed limit.

And it's not like sheriff's officials don't want the dates and locations known. They're happy to give people the heads up if it leads to safer driving.

"We're trying to give as much notice as we can to everybody, because the public's got a right to know," said sheriff's Sgt. Alan Hill.

The next countywide traffic enforcement event is scheduled for Monday, Hill said. Locations should be posted on the Sheriff's Office Web site soon.

The Lane Ranger knows of at least 75 drivers who will be checking whether SR 60 is on the list.

IT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING that lying to a police officer is never a good idea, yet it happens with alarming frequency.

The Lane Ranger can only imagine what traffic investigators must go through to get at the truth of what happened.

A couple of examples. Last month, a driver on Interstate 275 was following another car when they ran into heavy traffic.

As the cars slowed down, the driver in the rear slammed on the brakes but couldn't stop in time. Textbook rear-end collision. Open-and-shut case, right?

Wrong. The driver insisted to the officer that another car bumped her. The officer indulged her argument by getting down on all fours to inspect the fender.

"I observed the rear bumper to be covered with a slight film of black dust and dirt," the officer wrote. "Nowhere on the bumper did I see any bump marks, or any signs that the dirt was wiped off or any contact made."

The same thing happened a few days later. A woman driving her Kia on Interstate 4 suddenly lost control, spinning into a vehicle that had pulled off to the shoulder to retrieve some fallen luggage.

According to the crash report, the driver of the Kia stated "she had no recollection of how this crash occurred. However, she then stated that she was struck in the rear by an unknown vehicle, which caused her to lose control."

The diligent officer went to the tow yard where the Kia was being stored to search for clues on the car that would support her claim. The officer found no damage, no paint transfer and no truth to the woman's story.

Drivers in both accidents were charged with careless driving. But the Lane Ranger wouldn't have objected to charges of obstructing justice or providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

When you're a police officer, you probably just have to be patient with drivers like these. At least it'll make for some tall tales around the office.

_ The Lane Ranger is currently stuck in traffic. But he can be reached at cridlinsptimes.com.

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