Florida has only 5 of 15 laws suggested by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. A reduction in costs and fatalities would likely result if laws were passed for things such as:
- Primary enforcement rear seat belt
- Booster seats
- Minimum age of 16 for a learner’s permit
- No nighttime time driving for learners
- Restricted passengers for intermediate-stage drivers
- No use of cellular devices for teens
- Minimum age of 18 for an unrestricted license
- Ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers
- No texting except in an emergency.
One of the cornerstones of civilized society, laws keep anarchy in check by establishing guidelines for what people can and cannot do. Outlining acceptable behavior contributes to a cohesive society and promotes public welfare. Legislation is a key player in traffic safety, yet a recent report reveals that more than 375 laws are needed across the U.S. in order to address the country’s piecemeal safety agenda. Published by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the 14th edition of the Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws rated the states “on their progress in adopting 15 basic, commonsense laws that have been shown to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce the economic and social cost of crashes.” And how did Florida do? It received the worst of the three possible ratings.
The Sunshine State shared the dubious “red” rating along with 16 other states, indicating that they fell “dangerously behind in adopting the Advocates’ recommended optimal laws.” Only five states showed “significant advancement” toward adopting the laws, thereby receiving the coveted “green” rating. The remaining 28 states were labeled as “needing improvement,” a classification of “yellow.” While no state has adopted all 15 laws yet, Rhode Island tops the list with 12 and South Dakota comes in last with only two. Florida was only one of three states located south of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi River that has less than seven laws.
Of the laws considered fundamental to highway safety, three address impaired driving:
- Installation of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of all convicted drunk driving offenders
- An impaired driver who endangers a minor faces either a separate offense or an enhanced penalty
- No open containers of alcohol allowed in the passenger compartment.
Seven are concerned with teen driving and graduated driver licensing (GDL):
- Minimum age of 16 for a learner’s permit
- 50 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be at night, during learner’s stage
- Six months of supervised, citation-free driving before progressing to intermediate stage
- No unsupervised driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. during intermediate stage
- No more than one non-familial passenger younger than age 21 during intermediate stage
- No use of cellular devices behind the wheel during GDL program
- Minimum age of 18 for an unrestricted license.
Occupant protection is covered by things such as:
- Primary enforcement front seat belt law
- Primary enforcement rear seat belt law
- Children who have outgrown the height and weight limit of a forward-facing safety seat must be placed in a booster seat until reaching 57 inches in height and the age of eight.
All drivers should be prohibited from text messaging except in an emergency.
The laws identified as essential have the potential to save lives and money. Both of those worthy goals are needed here – Florida’s annual economic cost due to motor vehicle crashes is estimated to be $10.75 billion, and there were 27,233 fatalities on our roads from 2006 to 2015. Proactive action by state legislators could make a substantial difference in reducing these numbers.
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless traffic collision victims, and we are highly experienced in handling a wide range of auto and truck accident cases. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.