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The Florida Legislature: Making Driving More Dangerous

Florida’s Legislature recently proposed legislation making Florida’s roadways more dangerous, creating the potential for more frequent crashes and more serious injuries for the state’s drivers.

Florida lawmakers passed measures that would increase the allowable weight for large commercial trucks by 8,000 pounds and eliminate $160 million for the Florida Transportation Trust Fund. The funding cuts will likely hamper the state’s ability to keep up maintenance on our highways.

Hitting Back

Governor Charlie Crist used his line-item veto to stop the Transportation Trust Fund raid. Unfortunately, leaders in both the state House and Senate are threatening to try to overturn the governor’s veto.

Crist has not yet announced what he will do with the legislature’s raising of weight limits for big rigs. If he signs the bill, the maximum weight of 18-wheelers will go from 80,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds: an increase guaranteed to cause more injuries and deaths on Florida highways.

Safety Matters

A significant amount of research shows that the bigger a truck is, the more likely it is to cause injuries and fatalities when it crashes into another vehicle.

  • According to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, the odds of a fatality involving a big rig get worse for each ton of vehicle weight allowed by law. An 18-wheeler carrying that legal limit of 80,000 pounds is more than twice as likely to be in a fatal crash as a truck weighing about 50,000 pounds.
  • A study by the Highway Research Board shows that an 80,000-pound truck does as much damage to roads as 9,600 cars.
  • According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, approximately 380,000 large trucks were in traffic crashes in 2008, with 4,066 involving fatalities. Though large trucks account for only four percent of all vehicles, they were involved in 11 percent of all traffic fatalities.
  • Of the people injured in crashes involving big rigs in 2008, 71 percent were occupants of another vehicle, while 26 percent were occupants of the large trucks.

Florida’s roads are already dangerous enough. Large commercial trucks, easily distracted and poorly trained drivers, and poorly maintained roads all play a part in making Florida’s highways known as some of the most deadly in the country. To prevent things from getting worse, contact your local state congressman today and urge him to reconsider these measures.

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