There are some things we can remember anytime, anywhere, whether we want to or not: those annoying commercial jingles, the name of our 4th grade teacher, or maybe that nagging back pain. But there are some things we should remember but never seem able to when it really counts, like waking up Mother's Day morning with no present, the night of your daughter's school play and you never made her costume, or do I go first at this four-way stop?
Here are some interesting laws of the road for the state of Florida that may help the next time your mind goes blank while driving or when answering your teen-driver's questions.
#1 Seat Belts
It wasn't that long ago that the seat belt law in Florida was changed to primary enforcement in 2009. Before that, you could be ticketed only after an officer observed some other violation. Now, anyone in the front seats has to wear them but if you're over 18 it is legal to skip it if you're riding in the backseat. Children under 4 years old must be in a child safety seat and then in a booster seat until 6. Sorry kids, your parents and the state of Florida want to keep you safe even though you sometimes reenact that "Freedom!" scene from Braveheart. Whether it's legal or not, wearing a seat belt is always a good idea.
#2 Children in Cars
How long do you think is legal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle? If they are under 6, you've only got 15 minutes (good luck proving that if it comes down to it). If the engine is running, you've basically violated the law the second you close the door. I thought it was interesting that this has to be a law now, but there you go.
Ever have to transport something longer than the bed of the truck? I tried bringing home some 13' boards the other day in my station wagon and have to admit, they didn't quite fit. The rule is if it extends 4 feet or more beyond the side or rear, you need to attach an 18 inch red flag. Nobody wants to be impaled. The bed of a truck counts as a backseat, so the seat belt law applies- meaning if you're over 18 you can ride in the bed with no seatbelt restriction.
#4 Golf Carts
There are so many variations of golf carts now that the state is starting to come up with sub-categories. Road legal carts are now also known as low-speed-vehicles. They have turn signals, seat belts, headlights, a windshield, and can travel up to 30 mph. Their drivers blissfully enjoy the ocean air but remember, you can be ticketed for using roads that don't allow them. Typically, stick to two lane roads with a speed limit of 35mph or less and make sure you have it insured with PIP and liability coverage.
These vehicles can usually be added to your existing auto insurance policy but more and more auto insurance companies are willing to write low speed vehicles by themselves. Golf carts that aren't road legal can be used in other ways, such as with drivers 14 and up, on sidewalks 5ft wide, and don't have the other required safety features. These can usually be insured as an addition to your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy. Feel free to contact us about either of these insurance options.
These are everywhere and you probably don't notice them- solid white lines. They are usually employed on a divided highway, often right before intersections or other hazardous areas. You aren't supposed to cross them unless you are avoiding a hazard, so look around on your next drive and see how many people don't even notice when they cross over these markings.
Roundabouts are showing up all over the place, especially rural intersections. They are great for traffic flow if people are familiar with them. The idea is to keep moving but yield to traffic in the circle. Don’t rely on turn signals to tell you where the person in front of you is exiting. Pretty soon we'll all be driving tiny cars on the left side of the road too if we keep adopting European traffic patterns.
#7 Traffic lights
In some states it is illegal to turn right at a red light (California for example). It's common practice in Florida but is it actually allowed? Turns out (pun intended), you can turn but you are supposed to come to a stop first.
Quiz- what's the quickest way to a suspended license? Texting while driving that results in a crash. There may be faster ways but this could instantly put 12 points on your license, which in Florida is a 30 day suspension (or 12 months if the driver is under 18). There was a judge once who included a cell-phone suspension as well as a driving one, maybe that should become standard practice.
I had a car growing up with just one rear-view mirror so I spent a lot of time backing out of places. Turns out, only one mirror is required (unless the rear window is covered). Did you also know you cant put stickers on your windshield? Drivers also aren't allowed to wear headsets or headphones.
#10 And finally, a DUI stays on your record for 75 years, basically until you can't drive anymore.
Traffic laws vary from state to state and from year to year, I hope you found some of these useful reminders. It won't be long before there will be laws regulating self-driving cars and alternate fuel source vehicles. You don’t have to be an expert on safety and traffic laws but it is your responsibility to be a safe driver. Let your insurance agent be the expert on the ever-changing landscape of auto insurance and its regulation and you can spend your time getting that annoying commercial jingle out of your head.
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The views expressed here are the opinion of the author and do not attempt to make any recommendation for insurance coverage. Eligibility is determined by the insurance carrier and not all applicants will qualify. Please contact your licensed insurance agent regarding your area's coverage and eligibility.