Florida in the Red for Highway Safety Laws but could it get better after the 2015 legislative session?

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Uh oh, yet another study that reveals Florida highways are sub par and lead straight to the danger zone.  The 2015 “Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws” from the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety placed Florida squarely in the red when it comes to state legislation to keep drivers safe on the roads.  Each of the 50 states is given a color code for its ranking on 15 basic traffic safety laws: green (good), yellow (caution) and red (danger). States in the red category are those falling “dangerously behind” in adopting 15 state laws the advocates believe are critical to prevent injuries and save lives.  Some of the laws include texting while driving, open containers, seat belts and child passenger safety.  Florida was one of nine states to receive a red rating.

The report found Florida only had six of the 15 basic traffic laws enacted. Florida was missing four of the seven teen driving provisions, some of which included making 16 the minimum age for a learner’s permit as well as cellphone restrictions. In 2013, Florida had more than 2,400 traffic fatalities. Annually, motor vehicle crashes cost the state more than $12 billion.

Texting while driving is a big problem in Florida and across the country. Two-thirds of drivers admitted to reading a text or email while driving, according to a 2012 survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The economic cost resulting from crashes involving a distracted driver totaled $46 billion in 2010.

In 2013, Florida enacted a texting while driving restriction, but picking up the phone to send that tweet is only a secondary offense in the Sunshine State, which means drivers must be stopped for a separate traffic violation before receiving a ticket for texting and driving. According to Channel 4, the FHP has, so far, issued 14 tickets for texting and driving in Duval County, two in St. Johns County and one in Nassau. It shows that the law is rarely used.  An all-out restriction of texting while driving would have helped Florida get a better mark on the report.  Interesting enough, Florida has two bills drafted and will be filed once the legislature is in session in March to have an all-out restriction of texting while driving.  (http://www.news4jax.com/news/bills-aim-to-ticket-those-texting-driving-easier/30888136)

The advocates say the report is a wake-up call to all states that need to improve their traffic safety laws, and they call upon governors and state legislators to renew, reinvigorate and re-energize efforts to pass traffic safety laws…

The Florida Department of Transportation contends it’s supported legislation over the years to help improve driver safety in Florida.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to spend approximately $27 million in Behavioral and Law Enforcement grants to traffic safety partners throughout the state in the current fiscal year..  These include programs like Click It or Ticket, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Look Twice Save A Life, Put It Down – Don’t Text and Drive, and Alert Today Alive Tomorrow.

1 Comment

  1. Lauren says:

    This is a very interesting article that raises awareness about Florida’s driving laws. Thanks for sharing.

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