SWEETWATER, Fla. - The Florida Department of Transportation is calling new safety measures in the express lanes of Interstate 95 a success.
The express lanes have come under fire in recent years.
Some lawmakers and even Florida Highway Patrol troopers have said that the lanes are dangerous.
But on Tuesday, FDOT defended the express lanes, saying they're even safer now than they were before.
It's been nine months since FDOT put orange poles on I-95 to divide the express lanes.
FDOT District 6 Secretary Jim Wolfe said the express lanes are much safer now.
"We're extremely pleased with the progress today," he said.
Wolfe said that between March 2016 and June 2017, the poles have helped reduce lane diving by 87 percent.
Lane diving is an ongoing problem, which sometimes causes bad accidents.
"It's worthy of a $179 ticket and it's unsafe, but people were doing it anyway," Wolfe said.
The plastic poles are stronger and closer together than the old ones, helping to reduce accidents.
"We've also looked at collisions within the express lanes and found they're down 31 percent in the last six months. That's phenomenally successful," Wolfe said.
Over the years, Local 10 News has reported extensively about express lane safety problems.
"We asked ourselves, 'Is safety worse now than before we put the express lanes in?' So we contracted with a company to do a study for three years. The conclusion of the study was there's no significant difference," Wolfe said.
But state troopers had concerns.
One trooper told Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright that he didn't feel safe in the express lanes.
"There's really nowhere to stop people," the trooper said.
The FDOT is building five emergency stopping zones between State Road 112 and the Golden Glades interchange by spring of next year.
"That's ample for FHP to pull people over and ticket them. It's ample to pull disabled vehicles," Wolfe said.
FHP is planning to build emergency stopping zones by moving the median so it's really narrow on one side and really ample on the other side.
They'll alternate the zones so there will be three northbound and two southbound.
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