NSC Reports the State of Florida Scores an “F” in Road SafetyAugust 7, 2017 | Category: Automobile Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Truck Accidents | Share
A June 27, 2017 report, “State of Safety”, from the NSC (National Safety Council) states that no state goes far enough to protect its residents from the leading causes of preventable deaths and injuries, but some states earned very poor marks for overall safety.
The NSC report assessed states' safety efforts by examining laws, policies and regulations around issues that lead to the most preventable deaths and injuries. In addition to receiving an overall grade, states earned grades in three different sections: Road Safety, Home and Community Safety and Workplace Safety. The state of Florida earned a grade of “F” in Road Safety, “ D” in Home and Community Safety, and “F” in workplace safety, giving the state an overall Grade of “D” in overall safety.
Why did Florida receive a failing grade in Road Safety?
According to the NSC report, Florida lacks adequate legislation and enforcement for a number of key safety features it analyzed such as:
- Ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders
- Rear-facing car seats for children through age 2, and child restraint or booster seats for children through age 8
- Cellphone and texting bans for all drivers
- Seat belt requirements for all vehicle occupants
- Mandatory motorcycle helmet requirements
First-time DUI offenders are not required to have ignition interlock devices.
Currently 46 states and the District of Columbia permit some DUI offenders to drive only if their vehicles have been equipped with ignition interlocks. While in Florida first-time DUI offenders are not required to have ignition interlock devices installed, the court can order it. Section 316.193, Florida Satutes, requires ignition interlock devices to be installed on the vehicles of certain persons convicted of DUI as follows:
- First DUI conviction - if court ordered
- First conviction if 0.15 or above or a minor was present in the car - required for 6 months
- Second conviction - required for 1 year
- Second conviction if above 0.15 or minor was present in the car - required for 2 years
- Third conviction - required for at least 2 years
- Four of more convictions - required for at least 5 years with a Condition of Hardship license
Seat belt requirements do not cover back seat riders or children past the age of 6.
While Florida does have seat belt laws, they do not cover occupants sitting in the back seat and do not require children to be in child restraints or booster seats past the age of 6. Florida law requires front seat passengers and all passengers under 18 years of age to wear seat belts. Children 3 and younger must be secured in a federally-approved child-restraint seat. Children 4 through 5 must be secured by either an approved child-restraint seat or safety belt.
Cell phone use and text bans are secondary offenses.
10News in Tampa/Sarasota reported in February 2017 that Florida has one of the weakest anti-distracted driving laws in the country. It was one of the last states to pass a measure outlawing texting while driving, and it’s one of just nine states to make the offense secondary, meaning officers cannot stop a driver based solely on observing a violation of F.S. 316.305. Fines for violations are just $30 (littering carries a $100 fine), and they do not result in any points on one’s driver’s license.
Florida does not require motorcycle helmets in all cases.
Florida Today reported in 2016 that since 2000, it has been legal in Florida to ride without a helmet, provided the rider:
- Is at least 21
- Holds medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000
Many believe that Florida probably does not deserve a grade of “F” considering that there are laws in place to require ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders, seat belts for vehicle passengers and children, motorcycle helmets and cellphone use. However, citizens should know the conditions of those laws in order to be sure they are in compliance. Just because Florida does not specifically require first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices, or passengers in the back seat to wear a seat belt, or a cell phone as a primary offense, or every motorcycle rider to wear a motorcycle helmet does not mean that if an accident occurs, a person will not be held responsible.
It all comes down to prudent judgment:
- Do not drink and drive.
- Always wear your seatbelt when riding in a vehicle and make sure all children are restrained in approved safety restraints.
- Do not use your cell phone while driving.
“Should you of a loved one be injured in an accident in Florida, contact our Fort Myers Accident Law Firm,” said Attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Fort Myers Accident Lawyer,Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.