There’s some driver-related news coming out of the Sunshine State. It’s called the Florida Purple Alert Program, and state officials hope the new highway message program will help locate certain missing people. Florida motorists are accustomed to seeing digital highway message signs calling attention to various situations, from missing children to upcoming road construction and seatbelt reminders.
Here’s what the Purple Alert Program is intended to do and how it will help.
Florida launches the Purple Alert Program
The Florida Purple Alert Program was established by the state legislature and officially signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The program will assist in locating missing adults with “cognitive, mental, or developmental disabilities.” When impaired adults are reported missing, the description of the individual will be captured and shared directly with citizens who’ve signed up to receive alerts on their smart devices. Additionally, these messages will display on certain digital highway signs, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
If a citizen believes they’ve seen the missing person or the vehicle in question, they should dial 911 or *FHP (347). In addition, “they should make note of the person’s whereabouts and, if applicable, the vehicle tag, direction of travel, and location observation (highway/street, city, and county),” the FDLE says.
The Purple Alert Program begins July 1.
Other Florida highway message programs similar to Purple Alert
Florida motorists are already used to seeing urgent messages on signs through similar programs.
For instance, Amber Alerts notify the public of missing or abducted children. These alerts, also sent to mobile devices, are critical in helping authorities locate children within those few important hours of being reported.
The state also has Silver Alerts, intended to inform drivers of recently reported and endangered senior citizens.
And Blue Alerts notify the public that a law enforcement officer has become injured and a suspect has escaped.
Florida’s Purple Alert Program will provide the same immediate public announcement but for missing adults with emotional, mental, or cognitive impairments.
Highway message systems are helpful but also hazardous
Highway message programs have been instrumental in recovering abducted children and finding missing senior citizens. And most motorists understand the need behind the emergency messages, equally eager to help report what they observe and keep a lookout for those reported to be in danger. But what about some of those other messages, like the stats encouraging people to quit smoking or stop tailgating?
Maybe you’ve seen seatbelt reminder messages or cautionary statistics behind impaired driving and avoiding fatal crashes. Another frequent message reminds motorists about the dangers of texting and driving. So, do those digital highway signs have a positive impact? Some data says no.
Science performed analysis on Texas highways regarding these highway statistic-based messages. And according to the results — based on a review of 844,939 car accidents — crashes actually increased by 1.35% on stretches of the road just past highway message signs citing traffic fatalities and promoting safe driving. Officials say some of these signs distract drivers more than they helping them. And these metrics suggest some of the signs intended to encourage safe driving could be responsible for more crashes and fatalities.
If you’re driving in Florida on or after July 1, you could see messages about missing adults related to the Purple Alert Program. Be mindful and report anything you observe that might help recover these missing individuals. But don’t let those highway messages distract you from driving safety.