WHEREAS, the Legislature recognizes that everyone must share the road.
The above sentence is written in Florida Senate Bill 408: Highway Safety. The bill is currently under review by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, as subcommittee members examine amendments designed to make sharing the road safer for both bicyclists and motorists. The Florida Bicycle Association follows this bill and others to raise awareness about the challenges bicyclists face when sharing the road with motorists.
“Bicycling education is as important as drivers education when it comes to sharing roadways.” FBA Executive Director Becky Afonso stated. “Most cyclists are also motorists and therefore able to relate as both a cyclist and motorist when using roadways. The odds are that most law-makers are not cyclists and may not understand the challenges of poor road design, motorists not paying attention, or motorists passing too close at high speeds.”
The proposals under review in the state house and senate were filed in late January to mitigate common threats to bicyclists on Florida roadways. One such threat is texting and driving. To combat this problem, SB 144, HB 47, and HB 69 would double fines for texting and driving violations in school zones or school crossings. In addition, texting and driving violations will be considered a primary offense for drivers who are 18 and under. In addition, fines will be levied to benefit the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund. The fund was established in 1980 by the “Special Act,” a state referendum legislated to finance emergency medical response and transport services.
In addition to mitigating the threat of distracted driving, the Highway Safety Bill (SB 408) is a legislative priority for FBA when it comes to sharing the road. The FBA would like to see the current Move Over law amended to include vulnerable road users, requiring vehicles to move over a lane to pass or to slow down if moving over is not possible. “We started contacting legislators in November,” Afonso said. “We will continue to contact lawmakers until a bill is filed. Our message is simple and we hope to have as many supporters as possible contact their legislator to say: Move Over for People.”
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