TALLAHASSEE, FL --- Colonel John Czernis, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, announced the start of a statewide traffic enforcement operation aimed at reducing unsafe driving acts that contribute to crashes.

The primary focus of the operation will be driving acts that cause crashes that involve large trucks and school buses. The operation is a joint effort with the Florida Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Compliance Office. It is part of a series of long-term enforcement efforts that focus on top-priority traffic safety issues to help reduce deaths and injuries on Florida's roadways.

"During this operation, FHP troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance officers will be watching for unsafe drivers, especially those who contribute to collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks or school buses," said Czernis. "We certainly recognize that the vast majority of commercial motor vehicle operators drive in a responsible and law-abiding manner. However, because of vehicle size, weight and the type of cargo hauled by commercial vehicles, the potential for causing significant damage to other vehicles or property is very real. Therefore, it is imperative that commercial truck drivers obey state and federal laws and regulations meant to protect their safe passage and that of the motoring public."

Florida traffic data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that last year commercial motor vehicles were involved in more than 18,000 crashes that resulted in 365 fatalities. Drivers of smaller vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians are all at a considerable disadvantage when involved in collisions with large trucks.

For the operation, all available FHP personnel will be on the road tracking traffic law violators using laser, radar, video cameras, motorcycles, and unmarked patrol vehicles. FHP pilots will be on patrol spotting violators from the air and directing troopers on the ground to pull them over to initiate appropriate enforcement action.

The Florida Highway Patrol said it would like to remind all motorists to move over when approaching patrol cars, emergency vehicles or tow trucks parked on the roadside displaying flashing lights. "Please give us room to work and help us stay safe while we do our jobs," the FHP said in a statement.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers safety tips on sharing the road, school bus safety and much more on the Safety First Web page at www.flhsmv.gov/SafetyTips.