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New Report Says Florida Has Some of the Worst Traffic Safety Laws in the U.S.


A newly released report from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (“AHAS”) ranks Florida as one of the country’s worst states in regard to safety laws and enforcement. The AHAS is a coalition of public health, safety and consumer organizations, insurers and insurance agents that promotes highway and auto safety through the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and regulations. Advocates is unique both in its board composition and its mission of advancing safer vehicles, safer motorists and road users, and safer roads.

Florida is one of a dozen states that are dangerously behind on laws recommended by the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety. Among the problems the group found in Florida: Highway Safety Laws Needed in Florida: rear seat belt law, booster seat law, a law that requires all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, stronger nighttime restrictions for drivers with learner’s permits, ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders and the list goes on. Overall, Florida was among nine states that were commended for implementing at least 12 traffic safety laws in 2019.

Despite this accomplishment, the report notes that not a single state has implemented all of the AHAS’S 16 recommended traffic safety laws. In the report, the President Catherine Chase urges state legislatures to act “As legislative sessions begin around the country, we urge legislators to utilize this “roadmap” to identify deficiencies in their laws and take action to close the gaps.”

Traffic Safety Laws in Florida

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,099 lives were saved in Florida in 2017 because of seat belt use. As for motorcycle helmets and child seats, the report notes that Florida does not have a law requiring motorcycle riders of all ages to wear helmets. It’s one of 31 states without that requirement. The state also allows riders over 21 to go without a helmet as long as they have a certain amount of insurance coverage. The state also scored low in child safety laws.

Florida is one of 35 states the group said do not require infants and toddlers to sit in a rear-facing child restraint system at least through age 2. The report also said Florida lacks a good law requiring children who have outgrown the height and weight limit of a forward-facing safety to sit in a booster seat until he or she is 8 years old and 57 inches tall. Thirty-four states have such laws. State law does require children age 5 and under to be “secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device,” and children up to age 3 “must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat,” according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Children under 18 must wear seat belts. Florida does somewhat better as children get older. In the decade between 2009 and 2018, the Advocates report found.

There were 3,533 fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 20. Nationally, the crash rate for teenage drivers is three times the rate of older people. Florida gets good ratings for some restrictions on young drivers, but falters in the report because of no nighttime restrictions for such drivers or restrictions on passengers.

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