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Letters to the Editors

It's time for road trips, and accidents

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 24, 2001


Each year, millions of families pack up their cars for a good old-fashioned road trip. Although summer is a time for family fun and vacations, it's also a dangerous time to be on the road. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle statistics, more traffic fatalities occur during holidays. Leading causes include high speeds, impaired or careless driving, and not using safety belts. In 1999, an estimated 2,920 people in Florida died in these crashes and 19,073 Floridians were injured in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. July and August accounted for 440 of the fatalities.

Given the statistics for summer driving deaths, drivers should take extra steps to protect their families on the road this summer.

Everyone should wear a seat belt, and children should be properly buckled and in the back seat.

Drive at the speed limit. Speeding is a factor in about a third of all vehicle crash fatalities.

Prepare your vehicle for the road. Clean all lights and have a mechanic check the battery, brakes, tires, belts, hoses, exhaust system and fluid levels at least a week before the trip.

If your car breaks down on the highway, pull off the road as far as possible. Warn approaching traffic at once by setting up flares or reflecting triangles near your vehicle and 100 feet behind it. Turn on flashers and the dome light. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the vehicle.

Don't drink and drive! Almost half of all fatal vehicle crashes involve alcohol. For longer trips, allow enough travel time for frequent breaks for rest, snacks and exercise. Drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking.

Drive defensively. Be alert. Keep a safe distance from other cars. Try to keep suspected impaired drivers in front of you, not behind you.

Follow these tips for a safer road trip.
-- Diane Roffey, executive director Suncoast Safety Council, Clearwater

Taxes pay for public housing perks

Re: Crossing a threshold at Jordan Park, June 20.

Congratulations to the St. Petersburg Housing Authority and the new residents of Jordan Park. I am glad that my tax money is able to provide public housing with luxuries that I cannot even afford for my own family. While after 25 years of hard work my home needs many things, it is nice that those in public housing can enjoy air conditioning, garbage disposals, dishwashers, and washer and dryers.

I guess this just proves that hard work doesn't pay. It is nice for the city to supply subsidized housing for those in need, but it should be basic and without amenities. I don't deny anyone a proper home, just not at my expense. It is because of these amenities that some of these families have lived here for 30 years. Imagine how many people we could house if these luxuries were left out. Let's get the homeless off the streets rather then spend our tax dollars on needless luxuries.
-- John Hamilton, Gulfport

Please don't feed the ducks

Re: What's killing the ducks in Largo? June 17.

I don't live in Largo and am not in favor of killing the ducks. But we have to put part of the blame for the ducks' being killed with the people who feed them. Ducks are God's creatures, and people were not put here to feed the ducks.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission classifies the Muscovy ducks as farm animals (the same as chickens and pigs). They are not protected except from abuse or torture. When they are fed, they multiply a lot faster, causing a nuisance. Most cities in our area have laws that prohibit people from feeding birds and wildlife. The cities realize that when they are fed they cause a nuisance.

I am sure that these people who feel it is their duty to feed the ducks would not feed rats, roaches or other of God's creatures.

I live in a condo complex where a couple of people feed the ducks. The ducks eat at these people's place, then proceed to the swimming pool to take baths and relieve themselves.

I have seen these same ducks eat plants that people have planted in front of their units. As far as hosing off the sidewalks and driveways, as the duck lady suggests, that could get me charged with unlawful use of water in this time of shortage.

I know that some of the people who think they must feed the creatures that God created have some of God's creatures caged inside their homes. If they are so concerned about animals and birds, why don't they free those caged animals and let them decide where they want to live?
-- Thomas C. Newsom, Pinellas Park

Trip for coffee filled with impropriety

Re: Pinellas Park man wants sign law upheld, June 10.

It is amazing that Pinellas Park police Capt. Mike Haworth sees no impropriety in a code enforcement officer's taking a city vehicle outside city limits to "get a coffee."

Notwithstanding the fact that there are dozens of large and small restaurants, at least one doughnut shop closer than Ulmerton Road, and the probability that there is at least one coffee pot in the Police Department, would a prudent person go that far out of his way for a cup of coffee?

Since it was not for city business or an emergency (maybe it was), is the code officer going to be required to reimburse the city for the fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle?

Are the police and other city departments in the habit of expending city funds in the pursuit of personal benefit?

Since the police captain sees no wrong in the use of city equipment for personal benefit, what other city material is being used for personal benefit? How about all those computers, copiers, gas pumps, pens, pencils, paper clips, folders, telephones and the myriad other expendable and non-expendable items in the city's inventory?
-- John H. Edwards, Pinellas Park

Sometimes dreams do come true

Re: A dream fulfilled, June 17.

What an uplifting photo essay! As a regular at the Coney Island Sandwich Shop, I've followed with interest the story of Danny Murphy, and was saddened to read about his battle with cancer.

Reading about the outpouring of kindness and generosity from friends and strangers alike, it reminded me that there are good people in this world, and that sometimes dreams do come true.

I wish Danny courage and strength, and hope he always feels like "King for a Day."
-- Jennie Ibarguen, St. Petersburg

Thanks to the people who care

Re: A dream fulfilled, June 17.

With all the headlines on killing and attempted suicides, there is a bright side to people. They do care. My thanks to all the people who helped Danny Murphy fulfill his dreams. With what time Danny has left on this earth, I am sure he will never forget the people who helped him with his dream. Thanks again to people who care.
-- F. Sullivan, St. Petersburg

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