FDOT workers monitoring NE Fla. roads

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida Department of Transportation workers pulled another long overnight shift Wednesday into Thursday morning, monitoring local highways just in case the temperatures drop below freezing and the roads ice.

Workers say they'll be looking for brake lights on the road, which is the first sign there is a problem.

"Tonight we should have double, if not triple the staff we normally would," said Peter Vega, of FDOT.

He and a team of state workers at FDOT headquarters are in charge of monitoring 120 traffic cameras positioned along major roadways. For the second night in a row, they'll keep a close eye all night, looking for accidents created by the winter weather.

"You won't be able to see the ice, but you can monitor it by the response of traffic," Vega said. "Usually in the evening hours, people are driving 65-70 mph. You don't see people hitting their brakes for no reason, so that's kind of a sign."

Vega, who's in close contact with the Florida Highway Patrol and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said the best safeguard is to stay off the road. If you do venture out, he suggests driving 10-15 mph below the speed limit.

Drivers just to the north traveled through sleet and ice Wednesday, and some witnessed accidents caused by icy roads.

"On (Interstate) 95 we saw a semi slide off, slid right of the highway between the northbound and southbound lanes," said George Kenins, who's driving from South Florida to Ontario, Canada.

He said the roads in Savannah, Ga., were treacherous Wednesday morning, and he's offering this advice for drivers who encounter ice on the roads:

"Most people that hit ice hit the brakes, panic, and that's the worst they can do," Kenins said. "Abs can't save you. Then they start steering crazily. The idea is to steer the direction of the skid, that way you'll get your way again."

"We're just taking it easy right now, seeing cars slipping and sliding," driver Chris Randolph said. "We don't want to get in an accident, so we are taking it easy." 

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