Village, Freebee and FDOT partner for safety campaign

Village, Freebee and FDOT partner for safety campaign
Village, Freebee and FDOT partner for safety campaign
VIP’s board the Freebee for a ride around the area.

Palmetto Bay’s Perrine Community House was the site of a special ceremony to announce the third Freebee vehicle in the village, a limited-time run to promote FDOT’S “Put It Down, It Can Wait” campaign.

Village officials, other government guests and representatives of Freebee and the Florida Department of Transporation (FDOT) gathered on Friday, Oct. 18, at 10 a.m., to roll out the latest Freebee vehicle, decorated with the special “don’t text while driving” message.

Besides Palmetto Bay Mayor Karyn Cunningham, Village Councilmember Marsha Matson. and Lt. Antonio Rodriguez of the Village Policing Unit, Carlos Sarmiento of FDOT District 6, Freebee Transportation director Bryan Jobe, Sean McCrackine of District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava’s office, Pinecrest Mayor Joseph Corradino and Debby Wanninkhof attended.

“Today’s has a very special message,” Mayor Cunningham said. “We’ve been very proud to have the opportunity to partner with FDOT and Freebee to bring this third Freebee to the Village of Palmetto Bay. It clearly has the message, ‘Put It Down, It’s The Law.’

“As this vehicle traverses the streets of the Village of Palmetto Bay it’s going to serve as a very important reminder that a new Florida law now bans texting while driving and allows only hands-free cell phone usage in our school and construction zones,” the mayor added.

“The safety and security of our residents is a priority, so we’re glad to help spread the word about this new law in a clean, environmentally friendly way.”

Debbie Wanninkhof, a road safety advocate and a South Florida mother who helped make the law a reality after her son Patrick was killed by a cell phone distracted driver, also spoke.

“I am happy to be here today for the launch of the Palmetto Bay Freebee transportation service,” Wanninkhof said. “Ride share services are important…they are ecofriendly, relieve congestion, and most important, you never have to drive distracted now.

“I am very grateful that the Florida Department of Transportation is sponsoring the ‘Put it Down’ Freebee vehicle. It will bring awareness to distracted driving and as a result make our roads safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. If you can prevent one crash or save one life with this effort, wouldn’t it be worth it?”

Mayor Cunningham read aloud a message from college student Mark Merwitzer of Palmetto Bay, who had championed this legislation since 2016. Merwitzer thanked everyone who had helped.

FDOT’s Carlos Sarmiento expressed his appreciation as well.

“I would like to thank Mayor Cunningham and the wonderful staff of the Village of Palmetto Bay for this amazing opportunity to expand your transportation options and for sharing our safety message,” Sarmiento said. “I’d also like to thank Jason Spiegel, Mat Freeman and the rest of the team at Freebee for being a fantastic vendor-collaborator with FDOT.”

The new Freebee shuttle will operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days, filling the gap between the regular Freebee and the park and ride route. The Freebee app can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

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