7 police agencies target US Highway 19 in Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Seven Pinellas County law enforcement agencies fanned out along the entire length of US Highway 19, looking for bad drivers Friday evening. 

It’s the first time they’ve coordinated efforts like this to make the roadway safer.

Speeding, drunk driving, aggressive driving, you name it, it happens on US 19.

It’s busiest road in Pinellas County and is also one of the most dangerous.

The saturation patrol is an effort to stop deadly wrecks.

“Speed really doesn’t give you a whole lot of leeway as far as walking away from it,” said Sgt. Stephen Wannos, Traffic Homicide Supervisor with the Clearwater Police Department.

He said he’s clocked drivers on US 19 going over a 100 miles per hour.

“You hit one of these walls, or another vehicle, 65, 85, 95, 100 miles an hour, there’s gonna be absolutely nothing left of the front of your car,” said Sgt. Wannos.

The speed limit out here is 55 mph. Sgt. Wannos spotted a car going way over.

“Do you know how fast you were going?” asked Sgt. Wannos.

“Sixty-five,” answered the driver.

“No you weren’t doing 65. You got up to 80 miles an hour, sir,” replied Sgt. Wannos.

Ouch! That’s a $281 ticket and four points on his license.

The saturation is designed to send a message, slow down to prevent accidents.

“In my experience, it’s usually speed or alcohol are the two major factors involved,” said Sgt. Wannos.

Another driver doing 74 mph got a warning.

Others, who think of Highway19 as a racetrack, will be cited.

“I attack each and every action or activity that’s unlawful with the thought in mindset that I’m not only helping my family, but also everybody else out there,” said Sgt. Wannos.

Forty extra officers focused their attention on the highway, from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg.

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