Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To protect and serve

Residents of Sanford you can rest easy because the men in blue (technically the men in brown) are on the job. The Florida Highway Patrol is doing their utmost to keep the streets of Sanford safe, especially the corner of Markham Rd. and Longwood Markham Rd.

This is an extremely dangerous corner.

As indicated on the map. It used to be a simple west to north turn. A subdivision to the south of the turn was recently added and the entrance was recently completed. This prompted the DOT to add three stop signs to this very dangerous intersection (I guess it is technically an intersection now) even though the majority (in fact currently all) traffic still goes around the curve. I do not believe that this subdivision has any residents.

I know this MUST be an extremely dangerous place because the Florida Highway Patrol is often parked on the west side of Longwood Markham Rd. (facing south) protecting all of us from the reckless and dangerous drivers that slow roll through the Markham Rd stop sign. The stop sign that currently serves ZERO purpose. This section is so dangerous that at times (like on October 21, 2009 @ about 5:30 PM) it took 3 squad cars to protect this section of road. During the 20 minutes I observed their crime fighting skills, they handed out no less than 3 tickets to drivers that rolling through the stop sign. Over the last 2 months I have witnessed these outstanding protectors of the public hand out no less than 10 tickets. At $151 per (or more) this little corner is quite the money maker.

The fact that it took three officers to man this one corner brings me to one of two possible conclusions. Either the streets of Sanford are so bereft of crime and mayhem and the department is so over staffed that it can afford to have three squad car stake out this one location or the other possibility is that the officers are so poorly trained that it takes three of them to issue a simple ticket.

The only reason drivers get ticketed at this corner (besides the fact that they are rolling through a useless stop sign) is that they are looking to their left as the roll through it to ensure that there are no cars in the subdivision entrance way.

I wonder if there is a more detailed story here.

Maybe a member of the local news could investigate and determine a) the number of tickets that have been issued at this corner since the stop signs have been put in place, b) the amount of time that officers spend at this location, c) the amount of revenue generated by issuing tickets for what is essentially a useless stop sign, and d) the number of accidents that have occurred at this corner that warranted the installation of these signs.

10/22/2009 update:

The valiant men in brown were on the job again today! At 5:10 PM when I passed by, three squad cars were there again (looked like the same three from yesterday but I could not be sure). It looked like they had two desperadoes pulled over.

This is actually quite the racket. No only does the department get to collect all of this extra revenue but they are saving gas for three cars! No budget shortfalls for them.

10/13/2009 update:

They are still on the job at 5:30 PM as I went through that area. Either my timing was off or their training has improved as there were only two there today. It looked like they had apprehended another 2 nar-do-wells and were busy writing tickets. Additionally, I learned today that there are actually NO homes currently constructed in the subdivision that prompted the installation of these stop signs. The stop signs that still serve NO purpose it seems other than to make up for PS&J budget shortfalls.

11/4/2009 update:

I was out of town last week so was not able to keep up with what the protectors of the public were doing then but at 4:45PM today two of them were on the job! They had napped at least one more law breaker and were processing him as I drove past.

11/10/2009 update:

I drove by at 5:10 PM and there were two "bears" earning their pay. They had one driver pulled over.

1/19/2010 update:

I drove by at 5:40 PM today and there was a state trooper and he only had one driver pulled over. Don't know how long he was there or how much he took in but I would be very interested in how profitable that corner has been for the state troopers.

1/26/2010 update:

The protectors of the public were back in force. Two cars were on the job. They had a 20-something lawn service worker pulled over as well as a real desperado, the gentleman has to be 65 if he was a day. He looked rather dapper in his jacket and tie, a fine disguise to hide his criminal intentions.

2/3/2010 update:

I drove by at 5:05 PM and there were two of Florida's finest on the job.


  1. Hi!

    I followed your link, from your comment at Dr. Helen.

    What you're seeing isn't "revenue generation"--it is actually a pretty good sign that somebody is a good traffic engineer. Because when you introduce a traffic control device, like a stop sign or stop light, where there wasn't one before, you run the very real risk of killing somebody.

    In this case, there's a new intersection. So there are new stop signs, and a significant change to the traffic pattern. A responsible engineer will make sure that motorists are warned for several weeks in advance of the implementing of the intersection--and will follow up with strong enforcement by the cops after the fact to get the message across.

    You've lived there for years--you see no evidence that anybody is coming out of that subdivision. You're peeved that you have to stop where you've never had to stop before. Well--times change. New people move in. New roads get built.

    Look at the other perspective--consider somebody who has just moved into that subdivision. She pulls out to the end of the road, stops at the stop sign, signals, turns right--and gets nailed by an old-timer who can't get his head wrapped around the idea that a new stop sign was put in place.

    It's a real problem--resulting in dead people, every year. There's an entire section in the Federal Highway Administration's "Manual for the Use of Traffic Control Devices" (known to the traffic engineering world as MUTCD) about how to implement new traffic controls. And a heavy dose of the cops is most definitely part of the process.

    Oh, and BTW--it's not about revenue. It's about avoiding expense. Because if/when somebody gets killed at a poorly-designed or implemented intersection, you can be sure that the best and brightest lawyers will sue every government entity they can involve.

  2. Thanks!

    As to your comments, that is one way to look at it and I can not say if the way the intersection is now setup is required or optional.

    My opinion is that the intersection could have been controlled just as well with a stop sign for traffic leaving the sub-division, a stop for the left turn into the sub-division and either no controls or yellow warnings for the other lanes. This would have continued the smooth traffic flow for the majority of the traffic. The sub-division exit traffic is already not in the standard traffic flow so having that traffic come to a complete stop and wait for both lanes to be clear before proceeding is not out of the ordinary or unheard of. The problem with doing it that way is that there would then be no additional (useless) traffic stops to ticket people for rolling through.

  3. Also, if this was truly about "teaching" drivers about the new road conditions and not revenue, why does it take 2 or 3 police cars to do it? One car on station every other day for 3 or 4 weeks would be sufficent to get the point across.

    Also, why was only the north bound traffic targetted? Traffic flows in both directions. The most likely reason is that it was far easier for the police to hide from the north bound traffic than the south bound and as such, generates far more money.