Florida sets new rules on truck rules, lane use, ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/17/2013

A new transportation law in Florida covers truck rules, use of the fast lane, and ticket cameras. It takes effect July 1.

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a 226-page transportation bill that includes a provision to combat aggressive driving on the state’s multilane highways by reducing the number of drivers in the far left-hand lane.

Defining road rage, the bill – HB7125 – gives law enforcement more authority to ticket drivers who block traffic in the left lane by traveling slower than 10 mph below the posted speed. A failure to stay to the right would be included as one of the offenses that make up “aggressive careless driving.”

Travelers are prohibited from driving too slow in the left lane of a multilane highway if they “reasonably should know” that they are being overtaken by another vehicle. Violators would face $60 fines.

Advocates say the change will avert dangerous situations where frustrated motorists stuck behind a slower-moving vehicle try to pass on the right.

Also included in the lengthy transportation bill are provisions to bring some of the state’s truck rules in line with federal truck rules.

The provisions comply with federal rules on learning permits for commercial driver’s licenses and outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by truckers while driving.

Failure to make the changes could have resulted in Florida losing out on 4 percent of federal highway funds the first year. Withholdings double each year thereafter until compliance is achieved.

States must adopt the CDL testing standards by July 8, 2014. The deadline to adopt the texting ban is Oct. 27, 2013, and the cellphone driving rule must be updated by Jan. 3, 2015.

The use of automated cameras to ticket drivers for running red lights is included in the new law. The rule change authorizes cities, not judges, to hear challenges from drivers who dispute their camera tickets.

Fines for red-light running violations captured on camera are also increased. The average ticket now runs about $158, but the new rule could result in $408 fines.

The new law also changes the rule on turning right on red. No longer could drivers be ticketed when the vehicle comes to a complete stop – even after crossing the stop line – before making legal rights turns on red.

The Florida Department of Transportation also announced plans to lengthen yellow-light times. An investigation by Tampa news station WTSP found that the state set yellow intervals too short.

Yellow lights at intersections posted with red-light cameras are set at 1.0 seconds. The change is slated to add 0.4 seconds to yellow intervals at affected intersections by the end of the year.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida, click here.

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