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Florida officers rarely punished for reckless driving

Recently, the Orlando Sentinel discovered some troubling statistics when it did an investigative report on law enforcement crashes. Florida officers were involved in about 7,400 car accidents between 2006 and 2010 while on duty. According to the Sentinel, that is one out of 44 car accidents per year.

It was reported that officer-involved crashes caused over $126 million in property damage. This number does not include the medical expenses and legal claims that can result from a crash. If those numbers were from officers involved in high-speed chases or in an emergency situation, they might be easier to rationalize. But, the data showed that these were car accidents that happened when officers were not on an emergency call or involved in a chase.

More troubling, perhaps, is that the data that was reviewed showed that it is rare for an officer involved in a reckless driving incident to be ticketed. The data showed that civilians are ticketed 64 percent of the time and that officers are ticketed less than 11 percent of the time.

A spokesperson for the Florida Police Chiefs Association said that the statistics were "concerning," but compared to the number of police officers in the state, which is about 51,000, that the numbers were not high.

Regardless of who is driving, either an officer or a civilian, drivers should take care to drive responsibly. Dangerous driving behavior puts others at risk, no matter who is behind the wheel. Reckless driving often leads to car accidents, which can lead to lifelong injuries, death or lawsuits. If the reckless driving accident causes a death, the family of the deceased is affected for life.

Source: The Independent Florida Alligator, "Caution advised: Law enforcement should be careful on roads," Feb. 13, 2012

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