NewsPinellas County


Drivers arrested for racing at more than 100 mph over Skyway Bridge

Posted at 8:31 AM, Oct 12, 2020

The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two drivers after they were clocked driving 108 mph and 117 mph while going over the Skyway Bridge.

It happened Sunday at about 5:30 p.m. on the Pinellas side of the bridge going northbound.

FHP says the two cars, a gray Subaru Impreza and a red Eagle Talon, were traveling in and out of traffic trying to pass each other and were "obviously racing."

Troopers clocked the Talon at 108 mph and the Impreza at 117 mph. The speed limit on the bridge is 65 mph.

To visualize it, at 117 mph you are covering 171 feet per second. That's like covering an entire football field like Raymond James Stadium, in under two seconds.

“It’s terrifying if you really just think about it," said Mark Jenkins, the spokesperson for AAA. "Drivers that are going in high rates of speed like this is like a rocket ship heading down the street.”

He knows just how scary it can be. His car was totaled this year, after a distracted driver rear-ended him going 55 miles per hour.

“You take that at 55 miles per hour and you multiply that by two then you are talking about speeds well over 100 mph. I would not be sitting here talking with you today," he said comparing the speeds.

Troopers arrested the woman behind the wheel of the Impreza, 28-year-old Danielle Hebner, on the NB exit ramp from I-275 at the north rest area and coordinated with other troopers to pull over the other car.

Jose Pavez, 32, was the driver of the Talon.

Sergeant Steve Gaskins, FHP Public Affairs Officer, says while traffic has gone down during the pandemic, speeding has gone up.

"FHP has seen a rise in speeding, in excess of 100 mph, since traffic patterns reduced following the arrival of COVID. Troopers continue to patrol the State’s roadways to interdict drivers who would so flagrantly violate traffic laws in general, and speed limits specifically, as speeding is a major contributor to traffic crashes. Not only does the risk to speeding drivers dramatically increase at such high speeds, but the risk to other drivers is magnified, as speeding drivers reduce their reaction time to avoid roadway hazards and other traffic."

An FHP report shows over a five-month period, between January and May, troopers have cited drivers speeding over 100 mph in the Tampa Bay area by nearly double compared to the same time last year.

"Some people see with fewer cars it’s more like an open playground to go out and see what their car can do," said Jenkins.

In Hillsborough County, citations for triple-digit speeds have gone up by 50% and in Pinellas by 185%.

Jenkins says keep your head on a swivel when you're driving.

“There might be fewer cars on the roadway but don’t let your guard down because all it can take is running into one vehicle and that can cause a potentially life-changing situation,” he said.

Both drivers were arrested for reckless driving and racing.