The Florida Legislature started its 2015 session this week with the introduction of 10 bills aimed at distracted driving and two pieces of right-of-way legislation designed to protect vulnerable road users.
S.B. 908, introduced by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Cape Canaveral), would require all motorists, when passing vulnerable road users, provide a distance of at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the vulnerable road user. It also would require all accident reports to include information in the official report if a right-of-way violation led to a crash between a motorist and a vulnerable road user.
Under S.B. 908, if a motorist caused bodily injury to a vulnerable road user, the motorist would be required to pay a fine of up to $2,000 and would face a suspension of driving privileges for six months.
S.B. 1376, introduced by Sen. Greg Evers (R-Pensacola), would require that any motorist who commits a moving violation that causes serious bodily injury to a vulnerable user be required to pay at least a $1,500 fine, serve a minimum of 30 days of house arrest and attend a driver improvement course.
A vulnerable road user is defined under Florida law s. 316.027 as:
- A pedestrian, including a person actually engaged in work upon a highway, or in work upon utility facilities along a highway, or engaged in the provision of emergency services within the right-of-way;
- A person operating a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, or moped lawfully on the roadway;
- A person riding an animal; or
- A person lawfully operating on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the roadway:
- a. A farm tractor or similar vehicle designed primarily for farm use;
- b. A skateboard, roller skates, or in-line skates;
- c. A horse-drawn carriage;
- d. An electric personal assistive mobility device; or
- e. A wheelchair.
Additionally, legislators in Florida have introduced ten bills to reduce distracted driving. H.B. 1, H.B. 9, H.B. 17, H.B. 191, H.B. 1313, S.B. 192, S.B. 246, S.B. 270, S.B. 492 and S.B. 1022 would all limit cellphone use by drivers.
“With nearly 80 percent of crashes involving some form of distraction, the AMA supports legislation that provides an incentive for motor vehicle operators to focus their attention on driving,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations. “The text any driver wants to send is not worth hurting a motorcyclist.”
For more information on the bills please visit the AMA’s Florida state legislative page.
Please visit the AMA’s distracted driving position statement for more information on the topic.