Sunday, July 12, 2009

Driver's Licenses: Progressive severity of legal actions including the point system and licensing actions (cancellation, suspension and revocation)

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle is charged with the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.
The Division shall make and adopt rules and regulations for orderly administration of this chapter. The Division of Driver License determines who and how an individual gets a driver license, and who will not get a license and why.
Driving a motor vehicle in Florida is a privilege you earn. Every driver who gets a license must drive safely to keep it. If you break the traffic laws or become an unsafe driver, your license can be taken away. It can be suspended, revoked or canceled.
You can get your driver license suspended for a variety or reasons. The suspensions vary in length. They are as follows:
Violation of the point system - The point system is the method of assigning points for certain traffic infractions. The points vary depending on the severity of the traffic offense. In computing points and suspensions, the offense dates of all convictions are used.
They are as follows:
Traffic infraction Violation points
Leaving the scene of a crash resulting in property damage of more than $50. 6
Unlawful speed resulting in a crash 6
Reckless driving 4
Any moving violation resulting in a crash 4
Passing a stopped school bus 4
Driving during restricted hours 4
Unlawful speed 16 MPH or more over the speed limit 4
Running a red light 4
Unlawful speed 15 MPH or less over the speed limit 3
(Fines are doubled when infractions occur within a school zone or construction zone, with possible civil penalties up to $1,000 and can be required to complete driving school course.)
All other moving violations 3
Parking on a highway outside the city limits 3
Open container as an operator 3
Child restraint violation 3

Length of Suspension
12 points within a 12-month period 30 Days
18 points within an 18-month period 3 months
24 points within a 36-month period 1 Year
You may apply for a hardship license if you take an exam, participate in the ADI (Advanced Driving Improvement) classes of 12 hours, pay a $25 reinstatement fee and pay all applicable licensing fees.
Dead beat dad - That's right, if you don't pay you don't play. Your license can be suspended indefinitely until you present an affidavit from the child support agency, depository or clerk of the court proving that you are caught up. There is no class (that is classroom, not human) required however a $25 reinstatement fee will be required.
Did not attend court ordered traffic school - If you do not attend a court ordered school you must contact the court where it was issued, satisfy the traffic summons, show proof of satisfaction and pay a $25 reinstatement fee. You may attend traffic school once a year with a maximum of five visits in a lifetime.
Incapable of operating a motor vehicle - This comes with a one year suspension and you are not eligible for a hardship license. In order to get it back at the end of one year, you must request a hearing for the purpose of reinstatement.
Refusals to take a field sobriety test- You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test, however you will automatically incur a one year suspension.
Financial Responsibility Law
When your license is revoked, it is taken away for a period of 6 months to life. Revocation can be caused by a variety of reasons as well and they are as follows:
Your license can be revoked if you fail to meet the minimum vision requirements.
Commit murder from a moving vehicle.
Commit vehicular manslaughter.
You are in possession of a controlled substance.
You are convicted for any felony in which a motor vehicle was used.
You leave the scene of a crash that you are involved in which somebody was injured or died.
Commit a lewd act or involved on an act of prostitution in a motor vehicle.
Commit an act of perjury in a court of law.
You are convicted of a crime in another state.
A court may also order that your license be revoked for certain traffic offenses.
Your license can be revoked for certain medical conditions. The revocation lasts as long as the medical condition exists and can be removed when the medical condition clears.
When your license is canceled, it means the act of declaring a driver's license is void and terminated. This happens when you fail to meet requirements established by Florida state statute.
Some of the reasons for cancellation are as follows:
Fraudulently misrepresent information on a Driver license application. (The driving privilege will also be suspended for one year.)
Failure to maintain a court ordered requirement.
Failed to maintain a DUI issue.
You are responsible for a crash where somebody goes to the hospital and you fail to go to the required 4 hour traffic school course.
If you are caught driving while your license is suspended, revoked or cancelled, the degree of the crime is as follows:
First offense - Misdemeanor of the second degree.
Second offense - Misdemeanor of the first degree.
Third offense - Felony of the third degree.
Habitual Traffic Offender
A habitual traffic offender is an individual whose record shows that they are a danger to the motor vehicle community by continually displaying a complete disregard for their safety or the safety of fellow motorists that are sharing the road.
These individuals achieve this dubious distinction by accumulating 3 of the following convictions within a five year period.
Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
Any felony in which a motor vehicle is used;
Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
Failing to stop and as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury or another; or
Driving a commercial vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
If an individual accumulates 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses in which points may be assessed they may also qualify for the habitual traffic offender status within a five year period.
The penalty for a person who has earned this title is a five year revocation. The legal ramifications pale in comparison to the life altering anguish that you will go through to get to this point in your life. Your car insurance will be so high that it will be unrealistic for a person with average means to maintain a driver's license. This will affect your employment and personal life as well. Picking up a date on your bicycle or taking the bus is not exactly the most impressive way to kick off a date. In short, being a habitual traffic offender will make your life miserable.

Section 8.2. Speed limits including default limits where not posted
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, then it must be a duck. Call it what you want to, "unlawful speed", "too fast for conditions", "failed to use due care", "failed to have your vehicle under control", or "speed greater than is reasonable and prudent", but too fast is too fast. You may blame whomever you choose, police officer, judge, weather, your boss, or even your mate for your citation, but it doesn't change the fact that you were speeding.
Let me give you something to think about. Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves on the highway or avoid objects in the roadway. It extends the distance necessary to stop a car, increases the distance a vehicle travels while a driver reacts and reduces the effectiveness of the vehicle's safety features. The faster you go the harder you hit.
There is a big difference between unlawful speed and speed too fast for conditions or failing to have your vehicle under control. Speeding - exceeding the posted speed limit is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. The economic cost to society by speeding and related crashes is estimated by the NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year. In 2004, speeding was a contributing factor in 30% of all fatal crashes and 13,192 lives were lost in speeding related crashes. The 2000 costs of speeding-related crashes were estimated to be $40.4 billion a year or $76,865 per minute or $1,281 per second.1
Too few drivers view speeding as an immediate risk to their personal safety or the safety of others.
Crash severity increases with the speed of the vehicle at impact. Inversely, the effectiveness of restraint devices like air bags and safety belts, and vehicular construction features such as crumple zones and side member beams decline as impact speed increases.
The probability of death, disfigurement, or debilitating injury increases with higher speed at impact. Such consequences double for every 10 mph over 50 mph that a vehicle travels.
Many drivers don't consider this. They slow their speed in residential areas, or when the weather turns bad. To them, a few miles an hour over the posted speed limit is an acceptable risk. Their excuse - other drivers do it. They believe the worst that can happen to them is to receive a speeding ticket. Drivers like this are wrong. Maybe even dead wrong, because driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit can kill YOU.
In 2000, 593,000 people in the US received minor injuries in speeding-related crashes. An additional 71,000 people received moderate injuries and 39,000 received serious to critical injuries in speeding-related crashes.2
For drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are the most likely to be speeding. The relative proportion of speeding-related crashes to all crashes decreases with increasing driver age. In 2004, 38% of the male drivers 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.3
Alcohol and speeding seem to go hand in hand. In 2004, 26% of the speeding drivers in the US under 21 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were also impaired, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 (grams per deciliter [g/d1]) or greater. In contrast, only 12% of the non-speeding drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes in 2004 were impaired.
For drivers between 21 and 24 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in the US in 2004, 49% of the speeding drivers were impaired, compared with only 25% of non-speeding drivers.
Speeding was a factor in 29% of the fatal crashes that occurred on dry roads in 2004 and 34% of those that occurred on wet roads.
Speeding was involved in 31 percent of the fatal crashes that occurred in construction/maintenance zones in 2004.
In 2004, 86% of speeding related fatalities in the US occurred on roads that were not Interstate Highways.
For both speeding and non-speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes, the percentage of those who had been drinking, with BAC 0.01 or greater, at the time the crash occurred was higher at night than during the day. Between midnight and 3 am, 77 percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.4
Speed limit- Default speed limit
The speed limit as a rule is posted in all areas and changes with the situation. If for some reason that the speed is not posted, then the default speed limit will be in effect. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that the driver maintain a speed of 55mph on the highway and 30 in the city.
Section 8.3. Signs, signals, road markings, interpretation of centerlines, crosswalks, bike lines, turn lanes, flashing lights and proper responses to phases of traffic signals, stop signs and yield signs
Traffic signals control traffic and indicate which driver may go and which ones are required to stop. It is important to understand the meaning of each color and symbol. On vertical signals, the red light is on the top, the yellow is in the middle and the green is on the bottom. When signals are mounted horizontally, the red light is at the left, the yellow is in the middle and the green is to the right. The colors are always in the same position on the signals throughout the United States. This national uniformity allows even color blind people to drive safely.
GREEN INDICATION - Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through cautiously or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn. F.S. 316.075 (l)(a)l
GREEN ARROW -- Vehicular traffic facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another indication, enter as directed by the manual may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by such arrow, or such other movements as is permitted or other indications shown at the same time. F.S.316.075 (1)(a)2
STEADY YELLOW INDICATION. - Vehicular traffic facing a steady yellow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection. F.S. 316.075 (1)(b)1
STEADY RED INDICATION - Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown. F.S. 316.075 (1)(c)1
The driver of a vehicle which is stopped at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection in obedience to steady red signal may make a right turn, but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal. F.S. 316.075 (1c1a)
Traffic signs are designed for easy understanding. They have uniform shapes and colors. Once you know the colors and understand the meaning of the signs, you can quickly recognize the intended message.
Blue -------Services, Guidance. (Hospital)
Brown------Public Recreation, Scenic Places. (State Park)
Green------- Guide signs for direction.
Orange------Construction and maintenance warning.
Red ---------Regulatory signs. Indicate stop or forbidden actions.
White--------General regulatory and speed control.
Yellow ----- General warning signs that caution drivers.
Along with their colors and shapes, signs also display symbols. Signs contain word messages or a combination of words and symbols. Usually you read a word message from left to right or in a few exceptions from top to bottom. You read symbols from the bottom up.
Traffic Control Signals
Traffic signals are placed at intersections to keep traffic moving and avoid crashes. Drivers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders must obey these signals except when an officer is directing traffic. Stop on the stop line if your car is nearest the signal. Some signals change only when a car is at the stop line. If traffic signals are out of order, stop as you would for a four-way stop sign.
No Parking
Parking is not allowed:
On any bridge or overpass or in a tunnel
Within 30 feet of a rural mail box on a state highway between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Within 30 feet of any flashing signal, stop sign or traffic signal.
In such a way that you block or create a hazard for other Vehicles
Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing
On the roadway side of another parked vehicle (double parking)
On Crosswalks.
On Sidewalks.
In front of driveways.
By curbs painted yellow or where "No Parking" signs are posted.
Within intersections
Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
Within 20 feet of an intersection.
Within 20 feet of the entrance to a fire, ambulance or rescue squad station.
On the hard surface of a highway where parking spaces are not marked.
Parking Lights
Parking lights must be used on any vehicle parked on a roadway or shoulder outside of cities and towns. Directional signals must not be flashed on one side only on a parked or disabled vehicle. Use your emergency flashers. Driving with parking lights only (in place of headlights) is against the law.
Special Signs
Green Guide Signs
Green and white signs give information about directions and distances. Guide signs on expressways show you which lanes to use to get where you want to be. Routes that run generally East-West have even numbers and those running North-South have odd numbers.

Blue Service Signs
Blue and white signs direct you to services, such as gas, food, motels and hospitals. Brown and white signs point out scenic areas and parks.

Rectangle: regulatory or information
These signs tell you the law, so you must follow their instructions. Remember that a red circle with a slash means NO. The sign shows what is not allowed. You must not make a right turn at this intersection.
You cannot make a complete turn to go in the opposite direction where this sign is displayed. No U-turn. 50 miles per hour is the top speed you can travel in this area.
You must not make a left turn at this intersection. You are going the wrong way on an expressway exit ramp. Do not drive past this sign. Turn around immediately.
A divided highway is ahead. Stay on the right side of the divider. You may travel only in the direction of the arrow.
Parking only for vehicles displaying an official permit and transporting a handicapped person. You cannot go straight ahead. You must turn either to the right or left.
This sign lists the maximum recommended safe speed for an entrance or exit on an expressway. Slow down to whatever speed is shown. The center lane is shared for left turns in both directions of travel.
You may not turn right or left during the red light. You must wait for the signal to turn green. You must not pass any other vehicles going in the same direction as you are while you are in the area.
A diamond-shaped marking in a traffic lane or a diamond symbol on a traffic sign shows that a lane is reserved for certain purposes or certain vehicles. The lanes are usually reserved for buses or carpool vehicles during rush hour traffic. The type of restriction and hours will be shown on the sign. When you have passed this sign, you are permitted to pass other vehicles with care.
Traffic in the left lane must turn left at the intersection ahead. Stopping permitted only in emergencies.
You are approaching an area where a speed zone has been established.

diamond: warning
Narrow Bridge. These signs warn you of the special conditions or dangers ahead. Words or symbols will show why you need to use caution.
crossbuck: railroad crossing

pentagon: school sign
This five sided sign means you are near a school. Watch for children.
As you approach this sign, slow down, watch for children crossing the road. Stop if necessary. Obey signals from any crossing guards.
circle: railroad warning
Slow down and be ready to stop. You are nearing a railroad crossing.
rectangle: regulatory or informational

Vertical signs give instructions or tell you the law. Horizontal signs may give direction or information.

warning signs
Here are some common warning signs. These signs give you advance notice of possible hazards ahead. Drive with caution.

In wet weather, drive slowly. Do not speed up or brake quickly. Make sharp turns at a very slow speed. 14. DOUBLE CURVE.
The road will curve to the right, then to the left. Reduce your speed, keep to the right, and do not pass.
The highway ahead is divided into two one-way roadways. Keep to the right. 15. WINDING ROAD.
There are several curves ahead. Drive slowly and carefully.
The divided highway on which you are traveling ends 350 to 500 feet ahead. You will then be on a roadway with two-way traffic. Keep to the right. 16. CROSS ROAD.
A road crosses the main highway ahead. Look to the left and right for other traffic.
The dirt on the side of the road is soft. Don't leave the pavement except in an emergency. 17. DIP.
There is a low place in the road. Go slowly and be ready to stop if the dip is filled with water.
The bridge is wide enough for only one vehicle at a time. Make sure the bridge is clear of oncoming traffic before you cross. 18. PEDESTRIAN CROSSING.
Watch for people crossing the street. Slow down or stop if necessary.
Road surface ahead changes from a hard-surfaced pavement to a low-type surface or earth road. 19. RIGHT TURN.
The road will make a sharp turn to the right. Reduce your speed, keep to the right, and do not pass other vehicles.
Watch for trucks entering or crossing the highway. 20. REDUCTION OF LANES.
There will be fewer lanes ahead. Traffic must merge left. Drivers in the left lane should allow others to merge smoothly. Right lane ends.
Another road enters the highway from the direction shown. Watch for traffic from that direction. 21. ADVISORY SPEED.
The highest safe speed you should travel around the curve is the speed listed on the sign. Advisory speed signs may be used with any diamond-shaped warning sign.
The bridge is wide enough to accommodate two lanes or traffic, but with very little clearance. 22. TWO-WAY TRAFFIC AHEAD.
The one-way street or roadway ahead ends. You will then be facing oncoming traffic.
Do not enter if your vehicle is taller than the height listed on the sign. 23. HILL/DOWNGRADE.
Slow down and be ready to shift to a lower gear to control speed and save brakes.
Warns you in advance that a bikeway crosses the road ahead. 24. YIELD AHEAD.
Warning of yield sign ahead. Slow down and be prepared to stop at the yield sign or adjust your speed to traffic.
You are coming to a point where another traffic lane joins the one you are on. Watch for other traffic and be ready to yield the right-of-way when necessary. 25. TRAFFIC SIGNAL AHEAD.
This sign warns of traffic signals at the intersection ahead. Slow down; poor visibility is likely.
Slow your speed and keep well to the right. The road will curve to the left. 26. STOP SIGN AHEAD
When you come to this sign, slow down and be ready to stop at the stop sign ahead.

Construction and maintenance traffic control signs.
Various traffic control devices are used in road construction and maintenance work areas to direct drivers and pedestrians safely through the work site and to provide for the safety of highway workers.
The most commonly used devices are signs, cones, drums, barricades, flashing arrow panels, and flag person. Orange is the basic color for these devices.

Flag person Ahead
Workers Ahead

Channeling Devices
Barricades, vertical panels, drums, and cones are the most commonly used devices to alert drivers of unusual or potentially dangerous conditions in highway and street work zones. These devices are used to guide the drivers safely through the work area and at night they may be equipped with warning lights. When a Road Closed sign is displayed, do not drive on this road. Look for a detour or another route.
Flashing arrow panels are used both during the day and at night to give advance warning and directional information to drivers where it is necessary to move to the right or to the left into another lane.

Stripes on barricades and panel devices slope downward in the direction traffic must turn when directed to detour or move from one lane to another.
Yellow Center Line Markers
A broken yellow line shows that you may pass on the left when the way ahead is clear. Remember that you are facing oncoming traffic, so overtaking and passing should be done with care.

Solid & Broken
A solid yellow line to the right of a broken yellow line means passing or crossing is prohibited in that lane, except when turning left.

Double Yellow
Double solid yellow lines show that passing is not allowed in either direction. You may not cross the lines unless you are making a left turn.

Section 8.4. School buses including laws on passing while stopped
On average, 11 school-age pedestrians are killed by school buses (or vehicles used as school buses) each year, and 5 are killed by other vehicles involved in school bus related-crashes.
More school-age pedestrians are killed in the afternoon than in the morning, with 36 percent of the fatalities occurring in crashes between 3:00 and 4:00pm.
Since 1994, 1,479 people have died in school bus-related crashes - an average of 134 fatalities per year. Most of the people who lost their lives in those crashes (70 percent) were occupants of other vehicles involved. Non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclist, etc.) accounted for 22 percent of the deaths, and school bus occupants accounted for 8 percent.
Since 1994, 182 school-age pedestrians (less than 19 years old) have died on school bus-related crashes. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) were killed by school busses, 5 percent by vehicles functioning as school buses, and 31 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes. Nearly one-half (49 percent) of all school-age pedestrians killed in school bus-related crashes were between the ages of 5 and 7.4
Who must stop for a school bus which has stopped on the roadway to pick-up or discharge passengers? The next 3 diagrams will give an explanation of an event. You must answer who can go and who must stop. The answer is given at the end of the questions. The law will follow for an explanation.5
School Bus
Diagram 1
We have a 5-lane highway. Two lanes are moving in one direction and two lanes are moving in the other direction. There is a center lane, which is a left turn lane.
Looking at the above diagram, the school bus is stopped with the red lights flashing and the stop arm extended.
Question Stop Go
Must the red car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the brown car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the orange car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the green car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the blue car stop or go? Stop Go
Answer: Answer the questions above to see the correct answer.Correct! By law all vehicles must stop. The highway is not divided.Incorrect! By law all vehicles must stop. The highway is not divided.
School Bus
Diagram 2
We have a 4-lane divided highway. Two lanes are moving in one direction and two lanes are moving in the other direction. There is a median that spans 10 feet.
Looking at the above diagram, the school bus is stopped with the red lights flashing and the stop arm extended:
Question Stop Go
Must the red car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the brown car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the green car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the blue car stop or go? Stop Go
Answer: Answer the questions above to see the correct answer.Correct! By law the brown and red car must stop. The green car and the blue car are not required to stop due to the highway being divided by an unpaved median of more than five feet.Incorrect! By law the brown and red car must stop. The green car and the blue car are not required to stop due to the highway being divided by an unpaved median of more than five feet.
School Bus Diagram 3
We have a 4-lane divided highway. Two lanes are moving in one direction and two lanes are moving in the other direction. There is a median that spans 4 feet.
Looking at the above diagram, the school bus is stopped with the red lights flashing and the stop arm extended:
Question Stop Go
Must the red car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the brown car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the green car stop or go? Stop Go
Must the blue car stop or go? Stop Go
Answer: Answer the questions above to see the correct answer.Correct! By law all vehicles must stop. The unpaved median is less than 5 feet.Incorrect! By law all vehicles must stop. The unpaved median is less than 5 feet.
Right on Red
A simple maneuver, right on red, if not executed properly, can be expensive in fines paid. F. S. S. 322.27(3)(b)).
Proper (Right-hand) lane: F.S.316.151(1)(a) "...the approach for a right turn... shall be made as close as practicable to right-hand curb or edge of the roadway."
Proper signal when required: F.S.316.155(2) "A signal of intention to turn right...must be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet by the vehicle approaching."
Come to complete stop: F.S.316.075(3)(a) "Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk...or intersection."
No sign forbidding turn: F.S.316.075(3)(a)(1) "...except that municipal and county authorities may prohibit as such against a steady red signal."
Yield right of way: F.S.316.075(3)(a)(1) "...shall yield the right of way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal."
To proper lane: 316.151(1)(a) "...a right turn shall be made as close as is practicable to right hand curb or edge of roadway."
Section 8.5. Proper response to emergency vehicles
Not every emergency medical response requires lights and sirens, but the next time you encounter such a situation, yield immediately so that the emergency personnel can reach the person who is waiting for help to arrive. Remember that it's important to let them through. The next time it could be you.
In an emergency, minutes can mean the difference between life and death, and critical seconds can be lost if drivers don't make way for emergency vehicles. Take sirens seriously-make way for an ambulance, fire truck or police vehicle. Someday you may be the one calling for help, or the life on the line might be a friend.
You can do some simple things to help emergency personnel reach a person in need. Use the letters S-I-R-E-N to remember the right way to yield to an emergency vehicle.
Stay Alert
Drive defensively, keep the noise level down in your vehicle, and look for more than one emergency vehicle approaching when you hear a siren.
Check your rearview mirror, scan in front and on both sides of your vehicle, try to estimate the speed of the emergency vehicle, and plan your next move.
React quickly, but calmly, and scan in all directions before pulling over to the closest edge of the road. Pull as far off the highway as you can, as safely as possible. Stop and remain stopped until the emergency vehicles pass. Don't slam on the brakes or pull over suddenly. Gradually brake to avoid losing control in loose gravel on the shoulder. Always use a turn signal when exiting the roadway.
Before reentering the roadway, make a visual sweep in all directions. Turn on your turn signal, and gradually merge back into traffic.
Never Block or Follow
Don't stop at a place that doesn't have enough room to pull over safely and never follow or try to outrun an emergency vehicle.
Be alert for pedestrians who may be in the crosswalk or at the edge of the roadway. They might be looking for the emergency vehicle as well and not be aware of your efforts to yield properly.
Always use your signal so that other drivers know how you intend to exit the road and look for others that may have to cross lanes of traffic to yield. Pull as far off the highway as safely as possible and gradually brake to avoid losing control in loose gravel on the shoulder.
Move Over Act
The safety of our emergency workers and law enforcement officers is always of paramount importance. They put their lives on the line every day to ensure that our roadways are as safe as they can be. Too many of these individuals have been severely injured or killed while executing their jobs. To help combat this problem, the Florida legislature recently passed the "move over act" which states that when you encounter an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road you must now do the following.
Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle when on an interstate highway or a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction as the emergency vehicle, unless directed otherwise by a police officer.
Slow to a speed that is 20mph less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is at least 25 mph; or reduce your speed to 5mph when the posted speed limit is less than 20 mph when driving on a two lane road, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
A violation of this new law is a noncriminal traffic infraction and considered a moving violation.
Section 8.6. Required vehicle safety equipment
Your car must have two braking systems. Each must be able to stop the car alone. The parking brake or emergency brake should be strong enough to hold the car on any hill. This is a manual brake and operated by a separate pedal or a pull handle. Please refer to your owner's manual to determine which kind of emergency brake your car is equipped with. It must set after parking and be released before moving the car. It may be used to help stop the car if the other brakes fail. If you do need to stop the car, work the parking brake gradually to prevent locking up the wheels and sending the car out of control. In addition to working the parking brake, release your foot from the accelerator and down shift to slow the car down.
The other braking system is a hydraulic fluid braking system or sometimes called power-assisted brakes. Applying the foot pedal located next to the accelerator or gas pedal activates the system. Maximum pressure on this type of braking system can cause brake lock-up and cause the vehicle to start skidding resulting in loss of control. To prevent this from happening, you must pump the brakes while maintaining control of the car. You must apply enough pressure to get maximum braking without skidding.
Some vehicles have what is called ABS or anti-locking braking system, a system, which will not allow the brakes to lock up. In an emergency situation, you must put your foot on the brake and not release it or as I say "Lay on them and stay on them". If you do this with ABS brakes, you will feel a vibration coming from the brakes that means the brakes are doing their job. They are basically pumping the brakes for you. ABS is very good on wet roadways or roadways with less than normal or little friction. The hydraulic system using brake fluid needs to be checked periodically. Once again, check your owners manual so you know which braking system your car is optioned with.
You are required to have your brakes in such a condition that at the speed indicated, you are able to stop within the yellow zone. However, it is much more beneficial to have your brakes in such a condition that you are able to stop in the green "safety" zone.
Your car must have the following lights:
Bright (high-beam) headlights which show objects 450 feet ahead.
Dimmed (low-beam) headlights which show objects 150 feet ahead.
Two red taillights mounted on the rear, visible from 1,000 feet.
A white light that keeps the license plate visible from 50 feet (the plate must be kept clean).
Two red stoplights, seen from 300 feet in the daytime, that must come on when the foot brake is pressed.
Two white lights that indicate when you are backing up.
Two amber lights that serve as your turn signals which allow other motorists to know when and where you are turning.
All vehicles, including animal-drawn vehicles, must have at least one white light visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the front. They must also have two red lights visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the rear, or one red light to the rear visible at 1,000 feet and two red reflectors visible from all distances from 600 to 1,000 feet.
Your vehicle must have a horn that can be heard from a distance of 200 feet.
Your vehicle must have a windshield wiper in good working order for cleaning rain, snow, or other moisture from the windshield.
Must be safety glass and may not be covered or treated with any material that has the effect of making the windshield reflective or in any way non-transparent. It must be free of any stickers not required by law.
May not be composed of, covered by, or treated with any material which has a highly reflective or mirrored appearance and reflects more than 35% of the light.
When the rear window is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material which makes the window non-transparent, the vehicle must be equipped with side mirrors on both sides.
You must have electrical turn signals if your vehicle measures more than 24 inches from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body, or when the distance from the steering post to the rear of the body or load is greater than 14 feet.
Your tires should have visible tread of at least 2/32 of an inch across the base with no worn spots showing the ply. Smooth tires on wet roads contribute to serious crashes.
Your car must have at least one rearview mirror which gives a view of the highway at least 200 feet to the rear.
Your vehicle must have a good, working exhaust system in constant operation at all times. This system must include a muffler, a manifold pipe, and a tailpipe that prevents excessive or unusual noise. There is a maximum level of noise (measured in decibels) that is legal in Florida. The exhaust system must prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke. Your vehicle must have proper equipment to prevent air pollution.

Dealing with stress

Stress is the reaction of our bodies and minds to anything that upsets the regular balance. Stress can occur when bad things, as well as good things occur. External events and situations that are painful typically cause stress which leaves you feeling out of control. Pushing your body too hard at work or at play will soon deplete your body of the energy it needs to restore itself and results in you becoming stressed. Often people feel the effects of emotional disorders such as anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Aggressive driving by yourself or others can lead to stress. Eliminating stress from your life is impossible; however, implementing some stress management techniques can subdue some of its harmful effects. There are many ways to keep all the negative effects of different stresses to a minimum, including:
Take time for you to relax each day.
Learn to "let go" of things that are outside your control.
Learn to adapt to changes.
Learn to take action when you can make a difference.
Give your time to something or someone you believe in.
Section 7.2. Dealing with fatigue
NHTSA data indicates that in recent years there have been about 56,000 crashes in the US annually in which driver drowsiness or fatigue was cited by the police. Annually, an average of roughly 40,000 nonfatal injuries and 1,550 fatalities resulted from these crashes. Sleep is a neurobiological need with predictable sleepiness and wakefulness.
The loss of one night's sleep can lead to extreme-term sleepiness, while habitually restricting sleep by 1 to 2 hours a night can lead to chronic sleepiness. Sleeping is the only way to reduce sleepiness. Sleepiness causes auto crashes because it impairs performance and it can ultimately lead to the inability to resist falling asleep at the wheel. Critical aspects of driving impairment associated with sleepiness are reaction time, vigilance, attention and information processing.

Subjective and objective tools are available to approximate or detect sleepiness. However, unlike the situation with alcohol-related crashes, no blood, breath or other measurable test is currently available to quantify level of sleepiness at the crash site. Although current understanding largely comes from inferential evidence, a typical crash related to sleepiness has the following characteristics:
The problem occurs during late night/early morning or late afternoon.
The crash is likely to be serious.
The crash involves a single vehicle on the roadway.
The crash occurs on a high-speed road.
The driver does not attempt to avoid the crash.
The driver is alone in the vehicle.
Although evidence is limited or inferential, certain chronic, predisposing factors and acute situational factors are recognized as increasing the risk of drowsy driving and related crashes. These factors include:
Sleep loss.
Driving patterns, including driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
Driving a substantial number of miles each year and/or a substantial number of hours each day.
Driving in the late afternoon hours and driving for longer times without taking a break.
Use of sedating medications, especially prescribed anxiolytic, tricyclic antidepressants and some antihistamines.
Consumption of alcohol, which interacts with and adds to drowsiness.
Helpful behaviors include:
Plan to get sufficient sleep.
Do not drink even small amounts of alcohol when sleepy.
Limit driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
As soon as you become sleepy, stop.
Take a short nap (15 to 20 minutes)
Let a passenger drive.1
Section 7.3. Dealing with emotional distress
Emotion is a word used to identify a strong feeling such as anger, fear and joy. Emotions influence the way you think and act. When emotions affect your thoughts and actions, they can change the way you normally assess risk and make driving decisions.

Strong emotions can interfere with your ability to think and reason. When strong emotions affect you, your ability to make wise decisions is reduced and your chances of making a mistake increases. This may be a reason for road rage. The effect that an emotion has on your ability to drive depends upon the strength of the emotion and effort that you make to resist its effects. Emotions can affect the way you judge the risks involved in a driving situation. A strong emotion can cause you to fix your attention on one event which could cause you to miss another important event in another driving situation. One emotion could lead to another which could result in you experiencing several strong emotions in a short period of time.
Strong emotions can also cause changes in your bodily functions. Your body prepares itself for stressful events by making your heart pump faster and your palms may become sweaty. You can expect some emotional stress in your everyday driving.
If you are angry or excited, give yourself time to cool off. If necessary take a short walk, but stay off the road until you have calmed down.
If you are worried, depressed or upset about something, try to keep your mind on your driving. Try to find something to listen to on the radio.
Emotions influence the way you think and act. When emotions affect your thoughts and actions, they can change the way you normally assess risk and make driving decisions.
When strong emotions affect you, your ability to make wise decisions is reduced. Your chances of making a mistake increase.
If you are impatient, give yourself extra time for your driving trip. Leave a few minutes early. If you have plenty of time, you tend not to speed or do other things that can get you a traffic ticket or cause a crash.
Don't be impatient if a train crosses in front of you. Wait instead. Driving around lowered gates or trying to beat the train can be fatal. Don't become impatient with a slower driver ahead of you.
There are many distracting factors that compete for the driver's attention. It is important that good habits be developed so there can be safe movement through a traffic situation. Distraction from the driving task is caused by:

Thinking of things other than driving.
Talking on a cell phone.
Having "distracters" which require the driver's attention in the vehicle.
Situations outside the vehicle that attract the operator's attention.
Environmental factors.
Vehicle factors.
Route problems in unfamiliar areas
Seeing one potential collision hazard in the traffic scene while failing to see another.2
Section 7.4. Appropriate attitude
Safe driving involves both mental and physical exercise. I believe if we are to be safe on our highways, we need to look at both. First let us look at mental exercise. Attitude is the way we look at a situation and how it affects us.
What effect did getting a ticket have on you? Are you angry? If you are, at whom? Perhaps you are even seeking to place the blame on someone else or trying to make some excuse for your actions. If you think your receiving a ticket was unjust or unfair, there is a court of law that will make that decision. However, you have chosen this driver improvement course as a way to resolve this action. Now assume your place of responsibility and go forward. Can we say you have given yourself a lemon? Now what are you going to do about it? Are you going to be sour, or are you going to make lemonade? What do you think is the difference between Helen Keller and someone you might know who is deaf and blind? My answer is attitude. Please understand that life is exciting and fun, but not always fair. Who promised you a rose garden? I think if you can rise above the little things in life, and a traffic ticket is definitely a little thing, then you can rise above bigger things. Obeying the law is the right and fair thing to do. Treating others the way you want to be treated. Is that too much to ask? Would you get upset if the team playing your favorite team was playing unfairly and was not abiding by the rules? Seeing what we can get away with may seem like the American way today, but I am sure the people who died on Florida's roadways last year would not think so. I think if nothing else than just human decency, would this not motivate us to do what is right and fair. Let us be fair to ourselves, our family, and fellow travelers on our highway. Do you expect others to obey the law? Of course you do. Why then should another not expect the same of us?
We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. Ultimately, we are in charge of our attitudes.3
The purpose of this exercise is to determine the responsibility of Mr. Driver. Did you notice that the heading on this page is spelled incorrectly? Did you notice the extra "i"? This was done intentionally to prove a point. The point is that most of us have taken the "I" out of responsibility. This is common in today's culture. When the objective is to find the closest person or circumstances to pass the buck to so we can be excused. We do it every day. Taking the "I" out of responsibility in our driving can lead to serious problems, such as crashes that result in serious injury or death. We need to realize that our responsibility, along with courtesy and common sense, has been dismissed for the sake of convenience. The best way to prevent a problem is to correct an attitude. And this is, after all, the Lowest Price Traffic School, right?
Let us describe the situation for you. Any-town Elementary School is on the west side of a two-lane road with 12 foot lanes separated by a broken yellow line. The school, complete with parking lot, is surrounded by an open field on its side of the road, and woods on the opposite side. 1,000 feet south of the school on the other side of the road is a sign with a blinking light. The sign indicates that the area in question is a school zone with a speed limit of 20 miles per hour when the light is blinking. Two girls are walking south, away from the school, on the sidewalk on the west side of the road. A boy is running after them. The distance from the sidewalk to the school is 50 feet. Across from the school, a blue car is parked on the shoulder of the road, directly in front of a "No Parking" sign. A red car is stopped in the northbound lane, with skid marks leading up to the car. The skid marks indicate that the car was moving at 20 mph when the driver slammed on the brakes. A girl's body is lying in front of the red car (Not shown on the diagram).

School Zone hours: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
School Dismisses: 2:30 pm
Crash Occurs: 2:35 pm
Mrs. Ima Mother vs. Mr. Jay Walker Driver
How much is Mr. Driver responsible?
100% 75% 50% 25% 0%
Mrs. Mother's Statement
"This happened on Mary's 11th birthday. We had planned a birthday party at the local water park. We live about 18 miles from the school. It takes about an hour and a half for Mary to get home by riding the school bus. If she had to ride the bus, then we would have to travel about 45 minutes to get back to the water park. We could save a lot of fun time if I just picked her up from school. That morning, I took Mary to the school and parked across the street in front of the school. The parking lot is a very dangerous place, since all of the vehicles must use it, like the buses, teachers, parents, and the like. Besides, if I stopped out front I could watch her go into the school. As I dropped Mary off I gave her a note for her teacher telling her about our plans, and to call me if there was a problem. As Mary got out of the car, I told her not to run and to look both ways before she crossed the street. She did look both ways and she did not run. I saw her go into the school. Not hearing from the teacher all day, I assumed I could pick her up as planned. I arrived at the school around 2:35 P.M. after stopping to get ice for the party. As I stopped, I saw Mary standing just outside of the door of the school. We waved and she started walking toward the car. After watching her for a few seconds, I looked to see if there was any traffic coming. There was a car heading in our direction, but it did not look like it was going very fast. I watched it for a few seconds and then turned back to Mary. She was running by that time, so I again glanced at the car. It was much closer now. Several things ran through my mind. I decided in a moment to blow the horn, but before I could, I heard the squealing of tires, and a thud. I looked; saw the car now stopped, and Mary, lifeless on the pavement.
Mr. Driver's statement
I am familiar with the school zone, as I go through the area several times a week on my way home. I know what time school lets out and when there are children on the road. Today, I got off work early and was on my way home since it was a nice day. I decided to mow the yard. As I came to the school zone I slowed to the 20 mph limit. There were some children on the sidewalk coming toward me, and I could see a blue car on the east side of the road in front of the "No Parking" sign. I looked over at a boy running toward a couple of girls walking down the sidewalk. As I looked to the road again, I saw a little girl run out ahead of me. I slammed on the brakes, but could not stop in time. Everything in my car is in good working order and I was feeling fine up until the crash.
In your opinion, by expressing in percentage:
Mother's Responsibility - 100%
The Mother was illegally parked both in the morning and in the afternoon. Both times, she should have been in the parking lot.
The Mother arrived at the school after classes had been dismissed. Not only did this take away the Mother's opportunity to cross the road with her child, but it increased the likelihood of the child becoming impatient and running instead of walking.
The Mother was aware of the vehicle while it was still at a distance, and failed to warn the child of it until it was too late.
Child's Responsibility - 100%
The child should have followed her mother's instructions to walk and not run.
The child should have been aware of the approaching vehicle.
Driver's Responsibility - 100%
Seeing the first two girls should have slowed the driver down. Always plan for children to do the unexpected.
Seeing the running boy should have put the driver on full alert. The boy may have run into the street himself or caused the girls to run into the street.
Seeing that the children were on the sidewalk, he should have deduced that school was out. Also, seeing an improperly parked car, he should have prepared himself for the eventuality that a child could run to or from the car or that the car could pull out in front of him.
How Much Are We Responsible? 100%?
In most crashes with two or more drivers, we both contribute. It is possible that they did not contribute equal amounts, but they are both responsible. One or both may or may not have violated the law. Contributing to a crash and violating the law may be two different things.
Just because one party does an unsafe act does not mean we are not responsible for our own actions in an attempt to avoid the collision.
We are responsible to have our car under control at all times.
If someone runs a red light in front of us, we are not justified to strike them.
In a way, we are our brothers' keepers.
Responsibility is not a pie that can be sliced up, a portion for each. Responsibility is like air, there's more than enough for each of the characters - the mother, the daughter, and the driver all could have prevented this tragedy from occurring regardless of the behavior of the other characters.
F.S. 316.183 (1) states that "No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance or object on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care."
As we drive, we must be able to identify possible problems ahead of us. The law calls for us to drive having regard for the actual and potential hazards in existence.
What were some of the potential hazards in the school demonstration?
School Zone - A reduction in the lawful speed limit.
Children walking on the sidewalk.
A child running on the sidewalk.
A car parked in the "No Parking Zone".
A person sitting in a parked car.
A parking lot, with vehicles entering and exiting.
Possibility of unseen events - a child petting a dog in front of a parked car.
Speed Adjustments
The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection. When approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians, other traffic, or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions. The speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

Speeding may not be a direct cause of a lot of crashes, but it does take its share. Why do we put so much emphasis on speed? Because when speed is involved, everything is more serious. Ask yourself, "Why do I speed?" Some typical answers are: late for work, late getting home, late for an appointment or no reason at all! We are trying to run the clock back. Before we speed, maybe we should ask ourselves, "What will we gain by speeding?" Are we trying to save time? Let's take a look at that for a minute. You have a twenty-mile trip to make. If you go the speed limit, which is 55 miles per hour, it will take you approximately 21 minutes and 48 seconds. However, you are late, so you are going to travel at 75 miles per hour, so that will only take you approximately 15 minutes and 59 seconds. That is a saving of 5 minutes and 49 seconds. You are stopped by a highway patrolman and it takes him 10 minutes to write the ticket. Time taken to sign up for class, which even by the phone takes 5 minutes. Time taken to complete this course (4 hours). What happens if another vehicle stops in front of you and you are going too fast to stop or something happens to your car? You really are going to be late and who knows, the death rate in Florida may go up one more number. We didn't even mention the money you spent on your citation; paying for this course or the money you lost by not showing up at work.
I remember when my wife and I were going to the west-coast. She was asleep (or at least, that's what I thought) when we were west of Okeechobee on State Road 70. I let my speed get up above 60 miles an hour, when, all of a sudden, she hit me with a pillow. I said, "What are you doing?" and she replied, "Slow down! I don't want to give any of my money to Okeechobee County. I said "What do you mean?" She replied "I may want another pair of shoes." Now my wife already has seven pairs of shoes. I was asking myself, "What in the world does she want with another pair of shoes?" What she was telling me was that when we pay a traffic fine, we have bought something that we cannot wear or eat. I guess that really is a waste of money. If you had the money back that you spent for this ticket, what would you do with it?
Staying out of dangerous situations is a full time job. The time that you spend traveling on our highways is not the time to be talking on the phone, combing your hair, shaving, or even having breakfast. Have you ever had a cup of coffee in one hand, sausage biscuit in the other and were driving with only your leg? That is a prime example of doing too much, putting yourself and others at risk.

Driving Under The Influence of Drugs and Alcohol and other facts about alcohol use.

Drinking alcoholic beverages and other drug use is widely accepted in our society. Advertisers often portray drinking as glamorous and sophisticated. Yet the abuse of drugs is costly. It takes its toll in broken relationships, poor health, wasted lives and sometimes death.
This problem is greatly compounded when someone who uses drugs also drives. For several years, a growing number of collisions involved drivers who used alcohol and or other drugs.
During more recent years, however, the rate of alcohol related fatality crashes has declined. All states now enforce a minimum drinking age of 21. Nevertheless alcohol related crashes are still a top safety problem.
Many people who use alcohol do not realize that it is a drug. The word alcohol is the commonly used term for the chemical substance ethanol, grain alcohol, or ethyl alcohol.
The effects of alcohol vary from person to person. Equal amounts of alcohol affect different people in different ways. Even though the severity of its affect varies, alcohol affects everyone who uses it. One of the most serious problems of alcohol is that of the drinking driver. The demands of the driving task are so great that every driver needs to be in the best condition possible. A person cannot afford to increase the risk of driving by having his or her skills reduced by alcohol.
Everyone needs to know how alcohol affects the mental and physical abilities needed for safe driving. Even non-drinkers will interact with impaired drivers on the roadway. People who drive need to know the importance of non-drinking.
When you consume alcohol, most of the alcohol is not digested. It is absorbed directly and quickly into the blood stream through the walls and lining of the stomach and small intestines. Once alcohol enters the blood stream it is soon circulated to the brain. Alcohol has its greatest effect on the parts of the brain that control judgment and reasoning, the most critical skills needed by drivers. Physical abilities also become impaired soon after.
A driver affected by alcohol has a decreased ability to reason clearly and to make sound judgments. However, the driver may feel as though thinking and judging abilities are sharper and quicker than usual. Some people believe that they can do things better after they have a drink or two. People will tell you that they can dance or even play pool better after a drink or two. There is nothing a person can do better after having a drink than he could do before he had the drink. Drinking does not increase your ability to do anything better than you could before.
In addition, alcohol quickly diminishes the ability to concentrate. A decrease in the ability to concentrate greatly increases a driver's level of risk. A person's driving ability can be reduced after only one drink. A person's driving ability decreases as the amount of alcohol in a person's body increases. An alcohol- impaired driver is less apt to interpret correctly what he or she sees.
Alcohol also weakens a driver's inhibitions, which are the inner forces of personalities that hold back or restrain one's impulsive behavior. A driver's inhibition weakens as the alcohol content in the body increases. This is why men buy ladies drinks.
The person who is drinking may drive too fast, take needless risks or even drive into emergency situations without knowing or even caring.
As more alcohol enters the bloodstream, the area of the brain that controls muscular movements and body control begins to slow down. Even after the driver recognizes danger, the brain takes longer than normal to process the information and react to the danger. Messages the brain sends to different parts of the body might become confused.
The muscular reaction of a driver who has been drinking can become slow and clumsy. Steering and braking movements can become uncoordinated. The driver might over-steer, brake late or not brake at all. The driver might not be able to negotiate turns properly and safely. Such actions cause drinking drivers to be involved in serious crashes.
Alcohol affects a driver's ability to see clearly. Night vision, peripheral vision, color vision, and depth perception are all impaired. Visual acuity, sharpness of vision, and peripheral vision are also reduced.
Alcohol also affects the reflex action of the eyes. At night, this impairment can be critical. As headlights of oncoming vehicles come closer, the pupils of the eyes normally become smaller to shut out excess light. This reflex keeps the driver from being blinded by the glare of headlights. When the lights have passed, the pupils enlarge again to let in all available light.
After only a few drinks, this reflex action is impaired. The pupils do not become small rapidly as the bright lights approach, and they are slow to open after the bright lights pass. As a result, the driver can be blinded temporarily and may continue to have blurred vision some time after meeting each vehicle. Example if you are traveling 70 miles per hour and it takes 3 seconds for your pupils to return to normal you have driven over the length of a football field (100 yards) not being able to see.
Peripheral vision is also impaired by alcohol. When peripheral vision is narrowed, a driver must turn and look to the sides for potential problems. After a few drinks, though, drivers are usually not aware of restricted side vision. Therefore, they do not make the effort to aggressively look to the sides. They are creating a hazard.
As judgment and reasoning become affected, a person's actions and behavior change. Just one drink can affect a person's behavior. The same amount of alcohol does not affect all people the same way. Alcohol does not even affect one person the same way in all situations. The same person could have two different reactions to alcohol on two separate occasions.
One common effect of alcohol on behavior is a feeling of well-being. This feeling is known as euphoria. Some people with this euphoric effect think they can do anything. This feeling is only a state of mind, because alcohol depresses, or slows down, the working of the nervous system.
Alcohol-induced euphoria can cause people to take chances they normally would not take. This behavior can be deadly behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Alcohol can also change other types of behavior. People who drink often become angry or sad. Many become silly or even rude. Some of this resulting behavior depends on the person's personality as well as the mood they are in when they begin to drink. Alcohol has been said to be a mood enhancer in most cases. This means that when a happy person drinks, in most cases he will be happier. The best way to avoid these changes in behavior is to decide not to drink.
People who drink and drive can be a hazard to themselves and to others on the highway. Even a small amount of alcohol can increase the driving risk.
One of the most dangerous behaviors drivers can participate in is what has become known as "Impaired Driving." When a driver is impaired and operating a motor vehicle, more often than not, it is because the driver has been consuming alcohol. You may be impaired using other drugs that are both legal and illegal. Let us look at what impaired drivers are doing to others on our highways.
Traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in the US declined by 2.4 percent from 2003 to 2004. The 16,694 alcohol-related fatalities in 2004 (39 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represents a 4 percent reduction from the 17,308 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1994 (43 percent of the total).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that alcohol was involved in 39 percent of fatal crashes and in 7 percent of all crashes in 2004 in the US.
The 16,694 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2004 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 31 minutes.
An estimated 248,000 persons were injured in the US in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present - an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes.
In 2004, 14,409 traffic fatalities in the US occurred in crashes in which at least one driver, passenger, or non-occupant had a BAC of 0.08 g/dl or greater. Sixty-nine percent of the people killed in such crashes were themselves impaired. The remaining 31 percent were passengers, non-impaired drivers, or non-impaired non-occupants.
The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than 3 times as high at night than during the day (60 percent vs. 18 percent). For all crashes, the alcohol involvement rate is more than 5 times as high at night (16 percent vs. 3 percent).
About 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
In 2004, 30 percent of all fatal crashes in the US during the week were alcohol-related, compared to 51 percent on weekends. For all crashes, the alcohol involvement rate was 5 percent during the week and 12 percent during the weekend.
The highest impairment rates in fatal crashes in 2004 were recorded for drivers 21-24 years old (32 percent), followed by ages 25-34 (27 percent) and 35-44 (23 percent).
Impairment rates for drivers in fatal crashes in 2004 were highest for motorcycle operators (27 percent) and lowest for drivers of large trucks (1 percent).
Motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 2004 had higher impairment rates, with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dl) or greater, than any other type of motor vehicle driver. Impairment rates for vehicle operators involved in fatal crashes were 27 percent for motorcycles, 21 percent for light trucks, 22 percent for passenger cars, and 1 percent for large trucks.1
Forty-one percent of the 1,672 motorcycle operators who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2004 were impaired. Three-fifths (60 percent) of those killed in single-vehicle crashes on weekend nights were impaired.
Motorcycle operators killed in traffic crashes at night were nearly 3 times as likely to be impaired as those killed during the day (42 percent and 13 percent, respectively).
The reported helmet use rate for impaired motorcycle operators killed in traffic crashes was 41 percent, compared with 63 percent for those who were sober.2
More than one-third (36 percent) of all pedestrians 16 years of age or older, killed in traffic crashes in 2004, were impaired. By age group, the percentages ranged from a low of 9 percent for pedestrians 65 and older to a high of 52 percent for those 21 to 24 years old.3
Section 5.2. Relationship of the amount of alcohol consumed to BAC and the equivalence of different types of alcohol beverages
An average 12 ounce can of beer (5%), an average 5 ounce glass of wine (12%) and an ounce and a half of whiskey (40%) all contain about the same amount of alcohol. Remember, not all beer is 5% alcohol, not all wine is 12% alcohol and not all whiskey is 40% alcohol. Be careful, not all drinks follow this general rule of thumb. This is only a guideline. Some drinks, for example a Long Island Ice Tea contain more alcohol than a beer or a glass of wine or a shot. A Long Island Iced Tea contains rum, gin, vodka, tequila and triple sec. You are looking at almost three ounces of alcohol. Not your ordinary drink.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in an individual's body, measured by the weight of the alcohol in a volume of blood. The BAC determines the amount of alcohol that can be consumed before an individual is presumptively impaired.
There are a number of ways to test an individual's BAC. The most common method used by law enforcement officers is the breath-testing device, which measures the alcohol level in the breath from the lungs. BAC can also be determined by drawing blood and measuring the amount of alcohol in the blood itself. Blood alcohol concentration is directly correlated with the degree of impairment an individual displays when driving after drinking. Although an individual may not exhibit gross signs of impairment, he or she is nevertheless impaired, even at a BAC level lower than that allowed by most state laws.
There is no formula to determine BAC solely from the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed. BAC levels vary from person to person, and can vary within an individual on a case-by case basis. An individual's BAC depends upon that person's gender, weight, metabolism, the time period over which the alcohol was consumed, and the amount of food that was in the stomach prior to drinking. Although a person's BAC can be estimated, the level cannot be determined solely by the number of drinks consumed, and cannot be precisely calculated by a person's height and weight.
Blood alcohol concentration laws are different for drivers under the age of 21 because it is already illegal for these individuals to buy or possess alcoholic beverages. BAC levels reflect the level of alcohol in an individual's system. While BAC levels for underage drivers in Florida is .02; zero tolerance laws make it illegal for those under the age of 21 to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol.
Presumption of impairment is .08 BAC. The reason for such a presumption is because everybody reacts to alcohol differently. Some individuals can be the same sex, height, weight, have the same amount of alcohol and one individual can be visibly far more impaired than the other, while the other could recite the Gettysburg address. This may seem unfair but it is the law. A line has been drawn to which everybody must adhere.
Black coffee? Exercise? Cold shower? Sorry, these are not much help. Give an impaired driver a cup of coffee and you have a wide-awake impaired driver. Run him around the block and you now have a wide-awake, tired impaired driver. Put him in a cold shower and now you have a wide-awake, tired, cold, clean impaired driver. Time is the only way to sober up. About 90% of the alcohol will be oxidized by the liver and that takes time. 1-5% of the alcohol is given off unchanged in urine, perspiration, and expired air. That expired air is used by the police to measure your BAC. The remainder of the alcohol in the blood is oxidized or burned up by various organs of the body. Remember each drink of alcohol increases the number of liver cells destroyed and eventually may cause cirrhosis of the liver. This disease is eight times more frequent among alcoholics than non-alcoholics. The most dramatic and noticeable result of alcohol abuse is its effect on the brain. Alcohol depresses the brain centers, resulting in these progressive effects: lack of coordination, confusion, disorientation, stupor, anesthesia, coma, and death. Alcohol kills brain cells, and since the brain cannot grow new cells, any brain damage caused by alcohol is permanent. Alcohol abuse over a period of time causes loss of memory, judgment, and learning disability.
Section 5.3. Legal consequences, including the increasing severity with repeated offenses
First Conviction:
Fine: Not less than $250 to $500. With BAC level of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle not less than $500 or more than $1,000.
Community Service: Mandatory 50 hours or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.
Probation: Not more than 1 year total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year. All persons convicted of DUI are placed on monthly reporting probation.
Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months. With BAC of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: not more than nine months.
Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI: minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year. Individuals must complete 12 hours of DUI school before hardship reinstatement.
Treatment evaluation required to see if treatment is necessary
Impoundment: The court will order an impoundment of your vehicle for ten days.
Ignition Interlock device: Up to 6 months
If you are under 21 your license can be suspended for 6 months if your BAC is .02 or higher.
Second Conviction:
Fine: $500 - $1000. With BAC .20 or higher or minor in vehicle, not less than $1000 or more than $2000.
Imprisonment: Not more than 9 months. With BAC of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: not more than 12 months. If the second conviction is within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
License Revocation: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year. Second conviction within 5 years: minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year.
DUI School: 21 hours. Must complete DUI school following conviction and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period.
Treatment evaluation required to see if treatment is necessary.
Impoundment: The court will order the car or any car that you own or lease to be impounded for 30 days and you will incur all fees related to impoundment. If your car was stolen or you purchased a vehicle that was involved in a DUI incident. You must petition the court
Ignition Interlock device: Minimum of 1 year
Third Conviction
Fine: not less than $1000 and not more than $2500. With BAC .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle, not less than $2000 or more than $5000.
Imprisonment: Not more than 12 months for the 3rd conviction within 10 years of first conviction. Mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
License Revocation: Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hard-ship reinstatement after 2 years.
DUI School: 21 hours. Must complete DUI school following conviction and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period.
Treatment evaluation required to see if treatment is necessary.
Impoundment: The court will order your car to be impounded for 90 days, and you will incur all fees related to impoundment. If your car was stolen or you purchased a vehicle that was involved in a DUI incident. You must petition the court and prove that you were not involved in the incident and that this is not being done to circumvent the court. If the court finds this to be true, your car will be released with no penalties or fees.
The third conviction is now a felony if it is within 10 years of your previous conviction.
Ignition Interlock device: Minimum of 2 years
Fourth or More Conviction
Fine: Not less than $1,000
Felony: A conviction is a felony of the 3rd degree.
DUI School: The individual must attend 21 hours of DUI school
Imprisonment: Not more than five years
Revocation: The individual will have their license revoked permanently.
Treatment: Treatment evaluation required to see if treatment is necessary.
Section 5.4. Financial consequences of DUI
The average DUI will cost somewhere between $8,000 to $12,000 in fines and court costs. If you include attorney's fees, insurance increases, probation, restitution, driver license reinstatement and immobilization of your vehicle your costs will soar upwards into the thousands. The DUI will also become attached to your permanent driver license record for 75 years. Drinking and driving is not only a personal problem but also a societal problem. It may cost the drinker's family or whoever may meet a drinking driver on the highway.
The cost to society escalates as well. The cleanup process after a crash is a cost that the taxpayers must carry. This includes emergency services, police enforcement and maintenance.
After being charged with a DUI, your car will be impounded for a period of to 10 to 90 days, depending on how many convictions that you have. The court will release the car upon payment of a bond or bail. Until the car is released the charged driver will be responsible for all fees associated with impoundment which will include towing and storage fees.

Seat Belt Safety

We have all heard of the little old lady who lived in a small apartment and died of starvation. When the police went to investigate, they found over $10,000 in cash. She starved to death, yet she had the resources available to survive within her reach. What do you call someone like that?
Now let me pose another question. What do you call someone who dies when survival is within his or her reach? Like someone who dies in a crash because they didn't wear their seat belt. What is even worse is when someone does not put his or her child in a proper safety seat.
Lap/Shoulder Safety Belts
Florida's Law is "Click it, or Ticket!!"
Buckle up, It's the Law!!!
In 28 of the states with belt use laws in 2004, the law specified secondary enforcement. That is, police officers are permitted to write a citation only after a vehicle is stopped for some other traffic infraction.
As of December 2004, 49 states and the District of Columbia had belt use laws in effect. The laws differ from state to state, according to the type and age of the vehicle, occupant seating position, etc.
Research has found that lap/shoulder safety belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.
In 2004; 31,693 occupants of passenger vehicles (cars, light trucks, vans, and utility vehicles) were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents 74 percent of the 42,636 traffic fatalities reported for the year.
Among passenger vehicle occupants over 4 years old, safety belts saved an estimated 15,434 lives in 2004.
Ejection from the vehicle is one of the most injurious events that can happen to a person in a crash. In fatal crashes, 74% of passenger car occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed. Safety belts are effective in preventing total ejections. Only 1% of the occupants reported that were using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 29% of the unrestrained occupants.1
The facts speak for themselves. Whether you are going twenty miles an hour or eighty miles an hour, you are a lot better off wearing your safety belt. If you want to see first-hand safety equipment in operation, all you have to do is watch the NASCAR races on television. I have seen a car go over the wall and crash on the road below the track and the driver walked away. I know they have a lot more than just a shoulder and lap belt, but I also know that they are traveling over 180 miles per hour. You know what they say on television "Don't try this at home."
The 1999 NHTSA study, Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES), linked traffic and medical records in seven states to assess total costs of injury from motor vehicle crashes. The study found that the average inpatient costs for crash victims who were not using safety belts were 55 percent higher than for those who were belted. (Most current data available)
Proper Positioning and Adjustments of Safety Belts
Wear lap belts around your hips, not your stomach. Fasten them snugly. Wear a shoulder belt only with a lap belt. F.S. 316.614.
It is unlawful for any person:
To operate a motor vehicle in this state unless each passenger under the age of eighteen is restrained by a safety belt or by a child restraint device pursuant to F.S. 316.613, if applicable; or
To operate a motor vehicle in this state unless the person is restrained by a safety belt.
It is unlawful for any person eighteen years of age or older to be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt when the vehicle is in motion. Under the age of 18, use of seatbelts is a primary enforcement.
Any violation of these laws is considered a nonmoving violation that carries a fine.
Section 6.2. Head rests- Proper positioning and adjustment
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whiplash injuries in the US, due to front or rear crashes cost more than 7 billion dollars a year. It is no wonder that the insurance companies have an active interest in the quality of headrest that is being installed and utilized in motor vehicles today.
In 1995 it was nearly impossible to find a good headrest. European car companies led the charge in providing quality adjustable headrests for the consumer.
A headrest is only effective if it is positioned properly. Most front and rear crashes cause the head to twist on the neck. This snapping action is what causes whiplash. The best way to prevent that from happening is to have a headrest adjusted so that the point of contact between your head and the headrest is right where the device meets the base of the skull (where the skull meets the top of the neck). Another good rule of thumb is that the point of contact should be no lower than the ears.
The position of your seat has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the headrest as well. The distance between the headrest and the back of your head should be as little as possible. If your car seat is reclined so low that it resembles the recliner in your living room instead of a driver seat it will do you little good. This distance defeats the purpose of the headrest. Your seat should be no more than at a 70-degree angle. Anything more than that is ineffective in preventing whiplash.
Section 6.3. Child restraints- Proper positioning, adjustment, and drivers legal responsibilities.
In 2004 in the US, there were 495 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities among children under 5 years of age. Of those 495 fatalities, an estimated 173 (35 percent) were totally unrestrained.2

Put your child in a child restraint seat!
It's the Law!!!

Among children under 5 years old, an estimated 451 lives were saved in 2004 by child restraint use. Of these 451 lives saved, 413 were associated with the use of child safety seats and 38 with the use of adult belts.1
Research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (less than 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1-4 years old) in passenger cars. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
If 100 percent of motor vehicle occupants under 5 years old were protected by child safety seats, an estimated 566 lives (that is, an additional 114) could have been saved in 2004.
Failure to read the child safety seat instructions, in addition to vehicle owner manual instructions regarding safety belts, could result in serious injury or death as a result of a failure of the child safety seat to be securely and/or properly installed.2
The law:
According to F.S.316.613 it is illegal to transport children without the proper safety restraints. If you are caught it is considered a moving violation that carries a penalty of three points on your license in addition to paying court costs and a fine, which could amount to approximately $93, depending on the court.
The legal guidelines for child restraints are as follows:
Children three and under must be secured by a federally approved separated or integrated child seat.
Children four to five years old must be secured by a federally approved separate or integrated child seat. A safety belt is also permissible at this age.
Children under five years of age or younger must be in a federally approved restraint device, which includes a safety belt, or an integrated or separate child seat.
The following are some guidelines that will help in insuring your child's safety.
If you are using a seat made for infants only, always face it backwards or until your child can sit up well.
Make sure that the shoulder harness is over the shoulder, and make sure that it is snug and that all of the straps are tight.
If you use an auto booster seat, always use it with the following:
Lap and shoulder belt
Tethered harness with lap belt
Shield with safety belt
Tether strap (if required)
Make sure the seat belt is in the correct position
To protect the child, the safety device used must have a label saying that it meets federal motor safety standards. It must be used correctly, with the child fastened into the car seat and the device fastened to the car. The child should ride in a place where an adult can always be watching. Insist that all children buckle their safety belts before starting the engine.
The position of the seat needs to be in the middle of the back seat, secured to the seat with seat belts.
Do not hold any child in your arms while riding in a moving motor vehicle. In that position, neither you nor the child you are holding is even remotely safe. As a matter of fact, that is the worst position for your child to be in. The child should be seated in a federally approved booster seat or car seat appropriate for their age.
It is the drivers' responsibility to insure that all children are correctly restrained in a proper booster, car seat or federally approved restraint device. If a child is not restrained properly, the driver will get the citation. Please consider the consequences if your child is not placed in a secured, approved safety device and you slam on your brakes. Your child becomes a tiny human projectile.
It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Florida unless each passenger of the vehicle under the age of eighteen years is restrained by a safety belt or a child restraint device in compliance with F. S. 316.613 and F.S. 316.614.
For further information on child seats and restraints, you may refer to http://www.kidseat.org3
Section 6.4. Airbags including special precautions regarding children and small adults
Airbags, combined with lap/shoulder safety belts, offer the most effective safety protection available today for passenger vehicle occupants. It is estimated that, as of 2004, more than 157 million airbag-equipped passenger vehicles were on the road in the US, including 139 million with dual airbags. In 2004, an estimated 2,647 lives were saved by air bags. From 1987 to 2004, a total of 16,905 lives were saved.4
Air bags are supplemental protection and are not designed to deploy in all crashes. Most are designed to inflate in a moderate-to-severe frontal crash. For this and other reasons, lap/shoulder belts should always be used, even in a vehicle with an airbag.
Children in rear-facing child seats should not be placed in the front seat of vehicles equipped with passenger-side air bags. The impact of a deploying air bag striking a rear-facing child seat could result in severe injury or death. The NHTSA also recommends that children 12 and under sit in the rear seat away from the force of a deploying airbag.
It is recommended for small adults and the elderly to practice extra precautions as well. The force of an airbag could have a severe impact on these individuals. To prevent any unnecessary injuries, have the individual position their seat as far back as possible to lessen the impact of a deploying airbag.

NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,316 motorcyclists in 2004 in the US. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 671 lives could have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists. Reported helmet use rates for fatally injured motorcyclists in 2004 were 56 percent for operators and 47 percent for passengers.5
Automakers include the following safety devices to make sure your vehicle is as safe as it can be:
Adjusted to the middle of the head, level with the ears, it protects the neck from whiplash.
Lock all doors. Door locks provide better protection in a collision, preventing occupants from being ejected.
The steering column collapses in a collision so that a driver's chest is protected from injury. The steering column absorbs some of the impact forces in a collision.
Designed to cushion the occupant if the occupant comes in contact with the dashboard.
Rearview mirrors are glued on the windshield, not bolted to the frame of vehicle. If the occupant comes in contact with the mirror, the injury is less severe.
Vehicle designs try to eliminate any sharp or protruding knobs such as heater controls, radio knobs, and windshield wiper switches.
Designed to be somewhat recessed and smooth to prevent injury if contact is made to handles by occupants.6
Section 6.5. Importance of vehicle maintenance
It has been said if you take care of your car, it will take care of you. Nothing is truer in reference to taking care of your car. Safe driving depends on having our systems in good working order. Maintenance should be a daily habit. Check your mirrors, watch your lights and gauges, and if they indicate a problem, you either fix it or take it to someone who will fix it for you.
But there is much more to vehicle maintenance. There are procedures that you need to take care of at regular intervals. Your owner's manual is the best source of information on scheduled maintenance. It lists the equipment that needs to be checked and when this maintenance should take place. Some of the procedures are easy enough for you to do yourself. Others should be done by a trained mechanic. Once you know what they are and when they need to be done, it is up to you to arrange for maintenance.
These are the types of tasks that need to be completed, as suggested in the owner's manual:
Engine, Power Train, and Ignition Systems:
Tune the engine, change the transmission fluid, check clutch pedal travel and adjust as necessary, and lubricate parts of power train.
Fuel and Exhaust Systems:
Check fuel lines for leaks, replace fuel filter, replace air filter, clean carburetor, check performance of emission control system, and check exhaust pipe and muffler for leaks.
Steering and Suspension Systems:
Grease steering linkage, align front wheels, grease wheel bearings, and check condition of springs and shock absorbers.
Good brakes are an essential safety component in any motor vehicle. How long brakes last and how they perform depends on how you use and maintain them. If a leak develops in the brake system you may experience total or partial brake failure thus increasing the stopping distance. Steering may also become difficult. The braking system must be checked immediately and repaired. NEVER drive a car with a faulty braking system, regardless of the distance. Maintenance requires that you:
Check master cylinder and brake lines for leaks, check brake linings and drums (or pads and discs), check operation of parking brake.
Headlight, taillights, brake lights, and turn signal lights can burn out. Check them by watching their reflection on a wall or a garage door. You may also ask someone to help you. Defective lights make your car hard to see.
Keep headlights aimed properly. Headlights aimed too high can temporarily blind an oncoming driver. Headlights aimed too low reduce your sight distance at night or during low-visibility conditions.
Lubrication and Cooling Systems:
Lubrication is the use of oil and grease to reduce friction in a car's moving parts. Lubrication prevents damage from heat and friction and keeps the moving parts operating efficiently. Drain engine oil and replace with fresh oil, change oil filter (whenever oil is changed), and change the coolant in your radiator at regular intervals.
Tires are very important in having a safe trip. Remember that only a small portion of the tire is used to make the vehicle stop and turn. It is your only contact with the road. It is important to maintain the proper air pressure. Too little air even in one tire can make a car difficult to control. Tread on a tire helps to keep traction, which means control and the ability to stop on a wet surface.
You can extend the life of your tires by avoiding fast starts, stops and turns. Check tires periodically and rotate them regularly. Look for weak spots, cuts, blisters, rocks caught in the tread, and uneven wear. Replace tires before they become unsafe.