DUI Checkpoints

May 29, 2009

DUI Checkpoints – everyone has an opinion about these and the debate continues. The recent newspaper article about a checkpoint make now an opportune time to remind all of us that there is no right to drive listed in the United States Constitution. The privilege to drive a motor vehicle is earned based on the driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. In 2007, 3,221 people died to traffic crashed. One-third of those traffic fatalities were alcohol-related. If one unsafe person is removed from driving a motor vehicle due to a DUI checkpoint and a life is saved, where does this leave the debate?

Bonnie Rushton, Driving Schools Program Director


Weekend Traffic Incidents

May 26, 2009

This past weekend’s list of traffic incidents once again proves that reminding drivers to practice safe driving can not be stated too often. The reported crashes in the Northwest Florida Daily News include drivers that were 87, 38, and 19 years old. All three incidents include crashes resulting in the death of one driver, one in critical condition, and one taken to the county jail. The 19 year old in critical condition was not wearing his seatbelt when he was thrown from his vehicle. It makes you wonder how much less severe his injuries would have been if he had buckled up. The 87 year old “left the roadway on a curve and struck a cement post”. It makes you wonder if he was physically capable of still being a safe driver. The 38 year old is a defense attorney and is charged with DUI after crashing into two vehicles. It makes you wonder why someone so highly educated with so much to loose both professionally and personally would take this risk and make the choice to drive while impaired. Traffic tragedies can happen to anyone of any age, gender, or profession. Never take for granted the importance of safe, focused, defensive driving. These cliches still hold true – Arrive Alive, Click or Ticket, and a Taxi is Cheaper than a DUI.

Bonnie Rushton, Driving Schools Program Director

Florida Finally Has a Primary Safety Belt Law

May 26, 2009

After several years of trying to pass this legislation, Florida now has a primary safety belt law. The new law is effective June 30, 2009 and makes Florida one of 28 states that have a primary safety belt law. You can be issued a ticket for not wearing your safety belt even if you are obeying all other traffic laws.

In 2007, 59% of Florida’s car and light truck fatalities were not wearing safety belts. Studies have shown that wearing a safety belt reduces the chance of being fatally injured in traffic crashes by 43 percent more. NHTSA estimates that Florida will save 124 lives, prevent 1,733 serious injuries, and save $408 million in associated costs each year.

Safety belts are the most significant safety device ever invented. They provide impact protection, they absorb crash forces, and they keep passengers and drivers from being thrown out of the vehicle. Today’s vehicles are built with “crumple zones,” and safety belts are an integral part of the system. The belt holds the driver and passengers in place while the vehicle collapses around the “safe” zone. An air bag increases the effectiveness of a safety belt by 40%. But air bags were never meant to be used in place of safety belts, since they don’t protect against side impacts at all. When driving or riding in a vehicle, everyone buckles up every time.

Bonnie Rushton, Driving Schools Program Director

The Numbers

May 19, 2009

Statistics on Teen Driving and Crashes

  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens – more than drugs, guns, and any disease.
  • A teenager’s first 500 miles of driving are the most dangerous. During that time, they’re 10 times more likely to crash than an adult.
  • In 2003 alone, teens were involved in an estimated million and a half accidents.
  • Two-thirds of the teenagers who died in car accidents last year were not buckled up.
  • During the most resent¬†five year period for which records are available, nearly 35,000 people died when a teenager was driving.
  • Teen drivers killed in motor vehicle collisions had a youth passenger in the automobile 45 percent of the time.
  • For every 10 “close calls” in a car, there’s one crash.
  • 16 year-olds crash at a rate that’s nearly one and a half times as high as 17 year-olds.
  • 15 to 20 year-olds mak up 7 percent of licensed drivers, but suffer 14 percent of fatalities and 20 percent of all reported collisions.
  • 53 percent of teen driver deaths occur on weekends.
  • On the basis of current population trends, there will be 23 percent more 16 to 20 year-old drivers on the road in 2010 than there are today – 26.1 million.

Governor Crist Signs Bill Requiring Safety Belt Use in Motor Vehicles

May 14, 2009
May 6, 2009
Contact: GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE – (850) 488-5394

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today signed Senate Bill 344, the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law. The legislation mandates the use of seat belts in motor vehicles, effective June 30, 2009.

“Today I am proud to sign legislation that will help save lives in Florida and prevent serious injuries that otherwise could have been prevented,” said Governor Crist. “Nothing is of greater importance than keeping Florida’s citizens and visitors safe.”

Violation of the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law is a primary enforceable action and will result in a citation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates primary enforcement will prevent 142 fatalities in Florida annually. Florida joins 26 states that already have laws for primary enforcement of safety belts. In 2007, Florida ranked 35th in seat belt usage with the usage rate of 79.1 percent.

Sponsored by Senator Nan Rich and Representative Rich Glorioso, the legislation modifies and renames the current safety belt law. The new law also removes an exemption for passengers of a pickup truck.

The families of Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti attended the bill signing ceremony. Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti both lost their lives as a result of car crashes that occurred while they were not wearing safety belts. Dori Slosberg died at age 14 in 1996. Katie Marchetti died at at 16 in 2006.