This is an open letter to Sheriff Paul Blackman, and yes, he will be sent a copy just in case he does not read the paper.

Repeatedly I have said, and so have many others, there are several problems in Highlands County regarding accidents, speeding and traffic control.

The first problem was texting and driving, which the state legislature finally took action on this year and now has at last made that illegal. This new law is long overdue and should have been passed years ago and the failure to have done so has been responsible for numerous accidents and deaths.

The only problems with the new law is it should have been done years ago, it should be effective immediately instead of giving warnings for the rest of the year and the fines are way too low! Really, $30 for the first offense? It should be at least at minimum $200 so there really is an incentive for people to stop texting while driving. Hopefully, in the future that fine will be increased but at least now it is illegal to be in the car, driving and texting.

People, as a footnote … young, middle-age or old, you cannot drive a car while texting without putting yourself, and worse, other people at risk. It simply cannot be done and I don’t care how good you are at “multi-tasking.”

The second problem in Highlands County is the total and complete lack of traffic enforcement. The subject has been brought up on multiple occasions and Sheriff Blackman always says the same thing … there is no money available for it. Well, I say find it! This is another problem that is long overdue to be fixed.

How many times have you been driving on U.S. 27 in a 50 mph zone and had people flying past you doing at least 70 or 80? How many times have you been driving down a side street with a posted limit of 25 and people fly by doing 50 or more, and also give the “finger” because you are in their way and going too slow. And, why not; in years of living in Sebring I have never seen a sheriff’s car on the side of the road with radar out. Not once! Well, wait as that does not count the ridiculous empty cars parked on the side of the road that people laugh at as they going flying by. Oh, and that does not include Sebring proper because, there the local officers do give tickets.

The time is now, Sheriff, to find the money to have at least two dedicated traffic patrol units working 24/7. They can be a regular cruiser, an SUV or even a motorcycle but these units must be equipped with radar and they must start using it and giving tickets. Not warnings! People will not stop speeding in Highlands County until the word gets out that if you do, you risk a ticket. People at this point realize there is no traffic control or enforcement.

The time has absolutely arrived, Sheriff, to find the money necessary to make this happen!

Scott Semrau is a Sebring resident. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.

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