Saturday, November 24, 2007

Backing up on Interstate 275: Don't do it!

Lately I have seen motorists on Interstate 275 in the Tampa Bay area, particularly in St. Petersburg, backing up in the emergency lane. Just a day or so before Thanksgiving, I witnessed someone backing up on the entrance ramp to Interstate 275 northbound from 54 Av N (Exit 26).

Yes, I know, you have to be somewhere and you probably either overrun the intended exit or you did not mean to go onto Interstate 275. However, according to section 316.1985 of the Florida Statutes, it's the law: Backing up on Interstate 275 is illegal. Not only it's illegal, it's dangerous.

Consider this: Realize you are on a high speed interstate highway such as Interstate 275 and everyone is going in the same direction as you are. You know that the emergency lane is there in case your vehicle has a breakdown. Anytime someone tries to back up to save a precious few minutes, you are putting yourself, your passengers, and your fellow motorists in danger.

Now here's what you can do if in the event you overrun your exit or enter Interstate 275 by mistake:

Overrunning your exit: Simply go on to the next exit, even if the next exit happens to be across the Howard Frankland Bridge, and turn around there. Speaking of the Howard Frankland Bridge, the closest exits where you can make a legal turnaround are Exit 39A (Kennedy Blvd./FL 60 East) for northbound and Exit 32 (4 St N/FL 687) for southbound Interstate 275.

Entered Interstate 275 by mistake: Do not back up under any circumstances - instead, drive on to the next exit, where you can turn around and return to where you entered Interstate 275.

Those precious few minutes that you try to save by backing up illegally on Interstate 275 isn't worth it. Not only you could get written up with a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol (or any other law enforcement agency), you could end up involved in an accident and possibly end up in the ER at Bayfront Medical Center or elsewhere. Believe me, I would rather watch one of my favorite TV shows, ER, than end up in the real ER by accident. Moreover, your attempt to save some time can cost you money in the long run, especially in fines and medical expenses if an accident occurs.

So, the simplest explanation: Don't back up on Interstate 275 (or any other interstate highway in the Tampa Bay area) under any circumstances! It only takes just a few minutes to the next exit!