The Florida car accident attorneys of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney have continued to stress the importance of following Florida’s traffic safety laws and driving defensively, and sober, when traveling Florida’s highways. Even though the recent Florida traffic statistics show that FL highway accident fatalities are decreasing, and have continued to decrease over the last five years, there is still room for improvement.
In order for the downward trend to continue in Florida, as well as across the nation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has determined that basic state driving laws need to be tougher.
In the organization’s Aug. 18, 2011, Status Report, seven existing driving laws were identified as areas of focus. Florida enforces many of these driving laws; however, additional enactment is needed to meet the IIHS suggestions.
Enact Primary Seatbelt laws. The IIHS reports that nearly 13,000 lives were saved in 2009 because of tougher seat belt laws. In June 2009, Florida’s seat belt law went into effect, making it a primary offense if the driver or front seat passenger is not wearing a seat belt. In addition, anyone under the age of 17 must be in a proper safety restraint.
Mandate Motorcycle Helmets. The IIHS recommends that riders wear helmets regardless of whether they are mandated. According to the IIHS, motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of crash fatality by 37%. In Florida, the helmet law requires that all riders younger than 21 years wear helmets, without exception, while on a motorcycle. Anyone 21 years and older may ride without helmets only if they can show proof that they have a $10,000 personal injury protection insurance policy.
Toughen teen driver laws. Traffic crashes are the # 1 killer of teens in Florida and throughout the United States. The IIHS recommends an optimal restricted licensing period through age 18. Florida’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program restricts 16-year-olds to driving between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and is riding in the front seat, or the teen is driving to or from work. Seventeen-year-old drivers can drive between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat, or the teen is driving to or from work.
Lower speed limits. In 2009, nearly 11,000 fatalities occurred nationwide in vehicle crashes where speeding was a factor, according to the IIHS. Thirty-four states have speed limits 70 mph or greater. Florida has maximum speed limits on its rural interstates of 70 mph and below that on more urban roads.
Use automated enforcement. The IIHS states that a “proven way to curb speeding and red light running is to use cameras to enforce traffic laws.” In 2009, more than 130,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents where drivers ran red lights – half of those injured were pedestrians, bicyclists and passengers in other vehicles. Florida employs the use of red-light cameras throughout the state including in Palm Beach County.
Conduct sobriety checkpoints. Drinking and driving don’t mix — approximately 30% of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. The Florida Highway Patrol aggressively pursues drunk drivers and conducts between 15-20 sobriety checkpoints per month.
Build roundabouts. Though roundabouts are seen mostly in the New England area, they have become increasingly popular in the South as well as a means for reducing T-bone accidents. According to AOLAutos.com, where roundabouts have been installed, wrecks have decreased by 40 percent, and injury-related crashes have dropped nearly 80 percent. Clearwater, Florida is known for a roundabout that moves through the highest volume of vehicles and pedestrians in the United States.
Florida driving laws, when followed and enforced, can help save lives. In the case of gaps in safety laws, drivers must take responsibility for driving smarter and safer. We urge all Florida residents and visitors to buckle up and drive carefully and defensively when driving our Florida highways.
Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida car accident due to the negligence or carelessness of another driver, seek experienced counsel. I am attorney Philip DeBerard. I have three decades of legal experience representing people injured in car accidents and other personal injury claims.
The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, represents victims of car accidents and automobile crashes in Stuart, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Fort Pierce, Palm Beach and Vero Beach. If character traits such as integrity, dedication and compassion are what you seek in an accident lawyer, call Philip DeBerard. Choosing the right accident lawyer does make a difference.
Call 1-800-299-8878 to speak with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form