Florida will keep roadside emergency phones in place

| 7/27/2005

Bucking a nationwide trend, the Florida DOT has said it will not remove its 2,750 emergency call boxes along its roadways.

While states like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have already taken down their roadside phones, and other states – including Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Louisiana are consider it, the Sunshine State has decided to keep its call boxes, despite the fact that 53 percent of drivers nationwide carry cell phones, according to several wireless trade associations’ statistics.

“While cell phone saturation is 50 percent, still in Florida we have a lot of elderly and migrant farm workers whose vehicles are subject to breakdowns and don’t have cell phones,” Nick Adams, spokesperson for the Florida DOT, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “There are no active plans to do away with motorist aid call boxes.”

Initial figures showed a decrease in the use of the boxes in Florida from 56,674 in 1998 to 27,040 in 2002. However, Adams said the figure was skewed by the fact that the system tallied a call every time the door to the box was opened, not every time a call was made, the News-Journal reported. The method was changed in 2002, and more current data showed a drop of only 3.1 percent.