Cutbacks For Rest Area Security

By: Jacquie Slater Email
By: Jacquie Slater Email

Tallahassee, FL -- March 19, 2012 --

A British tourist was murdered at a Jefferson County rest stop back in 1993. As a result, twenty-four hour armed security was put in place at rest stops statewide.

Now, DOT says they are cutting back those hours.

DOT conducted a pilot program in northwest Florida for a year. It tested 10 hours of overnight security. They say the cuts are cost effective and safe.

"There was no difference in the level of incidents that were occurring at our rest areas," said Ian Satter with the DOT.

Travelers say they aren't convinced.

"It concerns me. Because I feel that I'm not as safe in Florida as I should be," said Paula Humphrey's. Humphrey's was traveling with her family after visiting Disney World.

"We drive into these different places and we see a sign saying there's security and we're much more comfortable to stop at that particular place. When I see they're cutting back, it's kind scary," said Joe Steele. Steele travels to Florida each year from Canada.

In areas where rest stops are on each side of the highway, one guard will split their ten hours between the two sides. The result, about five hours of security at each stop.

"If we can reduce the security personnel and still maintain that high level of safety that we do have at our rest areas and save some money for the tax payers here in Florida, we took that opportunity to do so. We're gonna save five million dollars every year," said Satter.

Some people say the changes will impact the way they travel.

"We probably will get off the highway and stop at a station where we can be together more close and have more people around us," said Humphreys.

Travelers say for now the security signs are misleading.

DOT officials say they're unsure at this time how they're going to update that signage to reflect the changes.

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