Auto Accident Attorney with Joyce and Reyes Sees Room for Improvement in Florida Highway Safety Laws
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 6, 2014 - Florida was listed among the “Worst States” for highway safety laws by a Washington, D.C. safety advocacy group.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) recently published the list, which summarizes a number of traffic safety laws, including those governing seat belts, helmets for motorcycle riders and text messaging.
“Each year, thousands of Florida families suffer a death or serious injury on our highways,” said Tampa auto accident attorney Robert Joyce. “Fatalities have been on the decline in recent years, and last year's partial text messaging ban is an improvement. But we still have a long way to go.”
The report cited Florida for its lack of a primary seat belt enforcement law for rear seat passengers, an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, an ignition interlock law for all drunk driving offenders, an all-driver text messaging restriction and certain restrictions on teen drivers.
An ignition interlock is installed on previous DWI offenders' vehicles and requires the driver to breathe into a device that measures blood alcohol content (BAC) before the vehicle will start. In Florida, the measure is mandatory for offenders caught with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. Many states require the devices for offenders with a BAC over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, as the AHAS advocates.
Florida's text messaging ban, passed in 2013, is a secondary offense, which means that police cannot pull over a driver solely for violating the law. Instead, they may cite a driver for text messaging if they are being detained for another reason, such as speeding or erratic driving. Cathy Chase, a vice president at AHAS, called secondary texting laws “toothless.”
State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Delray Beach, has introduced a bill, HB 539, that would make texting while driving a primary offense, enabling police to pull over drivers for that reason alone. Slosberg also introduced a bill, HB 645, that would prohibit all use of cell phones within school zones.
Traffic fatalities in Florida have fallen sharply in recent years, from 3,533 in 2005 to 2,430 in 2012. Slosberg attributes this to primary enforcement of seat belt laws, which went into effect for minors in 2005 and for all front-seat drivers and passengers in 2009.
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