Sheriff begins crackdown on reckless driving, ATVs

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman is launching a new traffic enforcement program that will be highly visible in more ways than one. 

The six-month STEP 12 initiative begins today (Aug. 19) and will focus on speeding a reckless driving in school zones and residential areas (STEP stand for Sheriff’s Targeted Enforcement Program and 12 is the radio code for a reckless driver).

In addition to residents seeing more patrol cars doing traffic enforcement in these areas, the most visible part of the program will be yard signs advising drivers to “drive like your kids live here.” The signs feature Sheriff Blackman and three young children next to a 25 mph speed limit sign. 

STEP 12 will be led by the Uniform Patrol Division, which has used the SARA model (Scan, Analyze, React, Assess) to identify problem areas for not just speeding and reckless driving in cars, but also areas where ATV use on public roads is an ongoing issue. The initiative will also focus on school zones and crossings and areas near public parks and recreational facilities.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children,” Sheriff Blackman said. “We will not tolerate irresponsible or reckless drivers in our neighborhoods and near our schools. We will target them and hold them accountable for their behavior. You should be able to take a walk or ride a bike in your neighborhood without the fear of being hit by a speeding car or ATV.”