Safe overnighting in FL rest areas?

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Tom

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Over the years, we've repeatedly warned folks against overnighting in freeway rest areas, quoting the lack of security and personal safety as reasons. While traveling FL freeways the last few days, I've noticed that most rest areas have a sign at the entrance that says "Night time security" (I may not have the wording exact). Does this mean what it appears to mean? Would you be safe and secure overnighting in FL rest areas?

OTOH do these signs merely mean that a FHP cruiser might come by?

Personally, I'll continue to avoid overnighting in rest areas, but wondered if our traditional wisdom is challenged in the cases mentioned above.
 

Jim Dick

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Tom,

I believe the night time security started after a rash of attacks a few years ago on people, mostly from foreign countries, by individuals who had nothing better to do. I think they identified the victims by the rental cars they were driving. I"m sure the attacks were not against foreigners as many of our visitors are from foreign countries. I was amazed when we worked the soda wagon for the shuttle launch at how many were from other countries. Many come to Orlando for Disney and all the other attractions.

I did stop at one rest area during the day and was told we could park out back where the picnic area was located anytime. I don't really know if there is actual security on the grounds or if the FHP provide drive through security. I'm guessing it's the former.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I used to know a guy who worked security at FL rest stops - he was a guard with a private firm that contracted with the state. He did a full night shift in one of the rest areas, not just a drive by.  That was several years ago and I suspect that the level of security may have fallen off now that the hubbub about the robberies and murders has died down - it's been quite sometime since there was a high profile report in the press. I seldom see the guy anymore, so don't know if he is still doing the same job.

Overnight  parking/camping is not permitted anyway. The official policy is a three hour max stay.
 

Tom

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RV Roamer said:
Overnight  parking/camping is not permitted anyway.

Ah, didn't know that Gary. I suspect I'd have seen a sign to that effect if I'd entered one of the rest areas.
 

Barb

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When we were in Pompano Beach last Nov., we were told that there was no over nighting at any Wal Mart in the state as of Dec 1, 2006.  Or in any rest areas except the Service Plazas on the toll roads. 

Also according to my rest area guide there are only 14 states that allow over nighting, and Fl is not one of them. 

There are some rest areas in Southern Mississippi that offers rv spots with water and electric for overnighters.  Very Safe.  Very Very Nice.

Safe Travels
Barb



 

cheryl

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The all night guards are still at the ones that state they have them.  We have stayed at serveral of the rr in FL and have had no problem.  You can bet that a big old truck will come park right next to you even though the place may be half empty.
c
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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we were told that there was no over nighting at any Wal Mart in the state as of Dec 1, 2006.

May I ask who told you that?  I am skeptical, since it is not under statewide control.  However, an increasing number of Florida counties and municipalities are adopting zoning that essentially prohibits overnight camping outside of approved RV parks. It's not aimed at Walmarts per se, but instead is intended to prohibit  people from parking an RV and living in it anywhere outside of zoning-approved RV facilities. That includes private property, even property owned by the RV owner, unless proper zoning permission is obtained. The zoning makes no distinction between a beat up old trailer and a million dollar class A - an RV is an Rv.
 

Steve CDN

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no over nighting at any Wal Mart in the state as of Dec 1, 2006. 

If that legislation has passed, it's not being enforced in Central Florida where Walmarts are currently being used as overnight (and sometimes regrettably as extended stay) parking for RV's.  Earlier this week while passing a rest stop on I95 near Daytona, I saw a bored looking state trooper walking around his car in that rest area.  I don't know how long he was intending to stay though.
 

Barb

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May I ask who told you that?  I am skeptical, since it is not under statewide control

Gary,
I'm not sure if it was the manager in Walmarts in Pompano Beach, or the tourist information center.  I really didn't pay much attention to it.  I would think that would be something the local authorties would or wouldn't enforce.  They enforce it in Pompano Beach. 

Barb
 

Shayne

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All the years we traveled Florida , We stayed at many a Rest area while enroute to our destinations.  Also found some security at a few of them but not all.  Thigs may have changed in the past couple of year however.,  No matter where you park, even in some campgrounds, you have to be careful and awhere of what's gooing on around you and that's why for 1 nighters, I never open the slide, cause I want to be able to skat on a moments notice.  Been there done that many times.
 

keywester

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Maybe its just my luck, but in 4 yrs I've never had a problem with a rest area overnight or a WM. Once a fulltime security guy directed me to a safer area I didn't know about on the property. Even took a chance on the WM in Englewood, which has a no overnight sign, but the mananger allowed it and put a very polite letter on my windshield for the police to see.
 

KodiakRV

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It seems to me that in the past few years Florida has closed down every Rest Area that does NOT have nighttime security.  But even though I've lived in Florida for 32 years, I don't think I would overnight in a Rest Area.  Every day that I go to work, I drive by the remains of a Rest Area where a Canadian couple on vacation was murdered about 25 years ago. 
 

Grany

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The key word here is "overnighting".  Staying all night in Interstate Rest Areas  is only allowed in a few states as stated in an earlier post.  The driving too long rule applies to all of us, not just truckers.  I travel the Florida Interstates with my TT on an average of once a month.  I travel just woman with my Service Animal Cat and do not abuse by staying overnight.  Folks that stay overnight are the ones making it hard on the rest of us.

Safety has never been an issue for me.  This month the cat an I pulled in as I was reaching my limit.  Security is present but you need to always be mindful of what is going on around you.  I took a two hour nap in the trailer with the door locked and protection inside.  When ready to go, I check what is happening outside, get myself together, make the trip to the tow with keys in hand for a fast entry.  I feel safer in Interste Rest Areas than I do going to my truck with groceries at my local WalMart.

Grany
 

RVsoul

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The Walmart off exit 136 on I-75 in Fort Myers allows over night staying. There is no formal security but the local police seems to like to spend their night shift there so it is safe!  ::)
 

ladybug

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Just returned from a six week trip to Florida. We left 60-70 degree weather to come home to low 20's and snow! I would say about 50% of the rest areas in Florida DO NOT allow overnight parking, but you can still stop for several hours to catch a nap and yes, if the say they have night time security, they have an armed security officer on sight. In south Georgia some of the rest areas also have dump stations and water for the RV's and they allow overnight parking with security. We stopped at one about 125 miles from the Florida line that was super nice. There were about 20 more campers stopped and with security we felt safer there than in some campgrounds we have stayed in.
 
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