TALLAHASSEE — For several years, Florida has been reminding motorists not to use flashing hazard lights when driving.
Nicely setting up shortly, truly feel totally free to flash away — but only on the highway.
And only in large rain or fog.
Barely found in a 38-web site transportation invoice passed by condition lawmakers past thirty day period ended up two lines that improve an usually-discussed — and not often followed — driving regulation.
Commencing July 1, except Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoes the evaluate, Florida motorists will be permitted to use hazard lights on roads with speed limits at or earlier mentioned 55 mph when the ailments make “extremely low visibility.”
The legislation rebuts many years of messaging by condition traffic officers, who have been telling motorists on social media, on freeway signs and in information tales not to use people lights in the rain.
“If driving in rain is as well hazardous, pull off the road,” warned the Florida Office of Highway Protection and Motor Motor vehicles in a 2015 tweet. “DO NOT activate hazard lights while nevertheless traveling.”
For many years, the Florida Highway Patrol has warned motorists that using hazard lights even though driving is baffling, that troopers seem for the flashing lights to see if a driver demands enable, and that hazard lights can override the car’s flip signals, producing it perilous to alter lanes. The lights ended up only meant to be employed when stopped on the aspect of the street or all through a funeral procession.
(For drivers who have trouble acquiring their car’s signaling units, the hazard lights are activated by the button with the purple triangle, normally found on the middle console.)
But Florida’s regulation was an outlier. Just 10 states prohibit making use of hazard lights though driving, according to AAA.
And quite a few motorists disobey the legislation through the state’s severe thunderstorms, which can occur out of nowhere and minimize visibility to just a few feet.
Those people motorists contain Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Palm Harbor, the lawmaker responsible for modifying the law this session.
“I will admit I have carried out it extra than once,” said Hooper, a retired firefighter. “I change these lights on just so I never get rear-finished.”
He said hefty storms on the freeway can be so nerve-wracking that pulling over feels hazardous.
“There’s been a lot of situations you are driving, and you have bought the demise grip on the wheel, you’re executing 30 mph on the freeway, and you cannot see something in entrance or behind you, and you are not genuinely sure the place you can pull around,” Hooper stated.
In spite of symbolizing a reversal in community safety plan that impacts each and every Florida motorist, the transform garnered barely any discussion by other lawmakers and no objection from condition transportation officials.
“They didn’t weigh in at all, which was variety of a shock,” Hooper said.
A person of the only lawmakers to raise worries was Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington.
“It just appears foolish that we’re legitimizing or legalizing what’s towards the legislation at the moment just simply because men and women get anxious driving,” he explained Tuesday.
Instead of changing the legislation, he said, the condition ought to be imposing it. Due to the fact July 1, 2018, police in Florida have issued about 460 citations for improperly flashing lights on a car or truck, in accordance to the Department of Freeway Basic safety and Motor Cars. (A spokesperson for the division, which incorporates the Freeway Patrol, did not weigh in when asked about the modify to the regulation.)
Willhite, who is also a firefighter, stated unexpected emergency staff know that hazard lights signal a dangerous situation or a disabled auto on the facet of the highway.
“Maybe we should not phone them ‘hazard lights,’” Willhite stated. “We can rename them, ‘I’m a afraid driver, I really don’t want to stick to the law.’”
• • •
Tampa Bay Situations Florida Legislature protection
Get updates through text information: ConText, our absolutely free text messaging services about politics information, brings you the hottest from this year’s Florida legislative session.
Indication up for our newsletter: Get Capitol Buzz, a specific reward edition of The Buzz with Steve Contorno, every single Saturday whilst the Legislature is conference.
We’re performing tricky to convey you the newest information from the state’s legislative session. This hard work requires a good deal of assets to gather and update. If you haven’t currently subscribed, make sure you take into account getting a print or digital membership.