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Speed Limits

by | Jul 30, 2019 | Speed Limit

Speed Limits

Speed limit signs tell you the maximum safe speed when both weather conditions and visibility are favorable. It is important to obey speed limits and drive within legal speeds. Doing so would improve safety by reducing the probability and severity of crashes. Keep in mind that speed limits show the fastest speed you may drive under ideal conditions. You are responsible for adjusting your driving speed to the weather, roadway, and traffic conditions. The safest speed is the one that allows you to have complete control of your vehicle and avoid collisions. For example, during a storm, you should drive slower than the posted speed. Do not drive so fast that you are unable to avoid colliding with anyone or any object on the road.

Florida Standard Speed Limits [1]
School Zones20 mph
Municipal, Business, or Residential Area30 mph*
Streets and Highways55 mph*
Rural Interstate70 mph**
Limited Access Highways70 mph
*maximum speed except where otherwise posted.
**maximum speed except where otherwise posted.

 

It is important to know that the law allows cities or counties to lower the maximum speed limit if they determine it is reasonable. That’s why you might see lower speed limits like 20 or 25 mph for some business and residence districts.

Also, even with speed limits posted, you must slow down when approaching any of the following areas [2]:

  • Intersections
  • Railroad crossings
  • Curves (also slow down when going around them)
  • Crest of hills
  • Narrow or winding roadway
  • Work Zones
  • School Zones
  • If there are other hazards due to pedestrians, other traffic, or road

Penalties for Speeding

Speeding is extremely dangerous. In fact, it is the #1 citation written for teens [1]. The faster you drive, the greater the impact or striking power of your vehicle:

  • When you double the speed of a car, you increase its force of impact four times.
  • When you triple the speed of a car, you increase its force of impact nine times.

Speeding is against the law. Remember, there is no such thing as the “speeding buffer”, meaning you are not allowed to drive up to 10 mph over the speed limit. The chart below outlines the fines for exceeding the limit by a certain amount [3].

Speed above the limit:Penalty:
1 to 5 mphWarning
6 to 9 mph$25
10 to 14 mph$100
15 to 19 mph$125
20 to 29 mph$150
30 mph and up$250

 

The penalties above apply in all areas except for the following:

Construction Zones

All fines are doubled for speeding in posted construction or maintenance areas where workers are present.

Toll Collection Zones

There are toll collection areas that are marked with special signs or devices that warn you of enhanced penalties. If you speed within these zones, your fine will be doubled.

School Zones

If you drive over the speed limit by 1-9 mph in a school zone that is marked by signs or signals, you will be fined $50. Otherwise, the fines double. No warning will be given in school zones [4].

Motorcycles

Motorcycle operators have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as drivers of cars and trucks. They can occupy an entire lane and must yield right-of-way. Although motorcycles may be hard to spot, you are still expected to look for motorcycles when driving especially when turning or changing lanes.

If you aren’t aware of motorcycles, then they can get lost in your blind spots or hidden by other vehicles or objects on the road. They are also very hard to gauge in terms of speed and how close they are because of their size.

Penalties for Racing

Illegal races held on city streets or highways almost always result in speeding. Due to its dangerous nature, street racing is a crime and will result in severe penalties.

  • The first violation will lead to a fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail, in addition to a license revocation of one year. Your vehicle will also be impounded or immobilized, and you will have to pay for all associated costs. You will also be required to attend a driver improvement course upon your first offense [10].
  • A second violation will result in a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 and/or a year in jail, and your license will be revoked for two years. You will have to forfeit your vehicle. [11][12]
  • A person convicted of a third violation of street racing commits a misdemeanor of the first degree with a minimum fine of $2,000 and a maximum fine of $5,000. [13]

Driving too slow

Driving too slowly is also against Florida law. You must not drive so slowly that you block or delay traffic moving at normal, safe speeds. You should drive with the flow of traffic, within the speed limit. When driving slower than the flow of traffic, keep right so others may safely pass. On highways, when the posted speed limit is 70 mph, the minimum speed limit is 50 mph [1].

Although you could be cited for going slower than the minimum, you will not be issued a ticket for traveling below the minimum in adverse conditions, such as rain or thunderstorm.

Emergency Vehicles

Everyday, police, fire, and ambulance vehicles respond to urgent calls. Any time lost getting to an emergency could mean the difference between life and death. As a driver, you can do your part to help save lives.

When law enforcement vehicles, fire engines, and other emergency vehicles use sirens or flashing lights, all motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to them [1]. You should pull over to the closest edge of the roadway immediately and stop. Do not block intersections. All surrounding traffic on both sides of the roadway, not just the side the emergency vehicle travels on, must pull over to the right and stop. If you are at an intersection, continue until you are clear and then pull over. If you are unable to pull over, you must stop where you are and let the vehicle go around you. Once you have stopped, wait until the emergency vehicle has passed or when directed by a police officer.

Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles

Between 1996 and 2000, Florida drivers have crashed into law enforcement and other emergency vehicles that were parked on the side of the road with emergency lights flashing 1793 times. This has resulted in 5 deaths and 419 injuries. In response to that, Florida has implemented the “Move Over Law” in 2002. This law protects law enforcement officers, emergency workers, tow truck drivers, sanitation workers, and utility workers stopped along roadways while performing their jobs.

Florida’s Move Over Law states that [1]:

On a multi-lane roadway:

  • You must vacate the lane closest to the stationary emergency vehicle, tow truck, sanitation, or utility vehicle. (Signal your intention to change lanes.)
  • If you cannot move over safely, you must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stationary vehicle should be prepared to allow those who are to move over into their lane.

On a Two-Lane Roadway:

  • You must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, you must travel at 5 mph.

Required Vehicle Safety Equipment

The equipment on your car must meet certain standards. It doesn’t matter if your vehicle is used or brand new from dealers, it is your duty to have it inspected and maintained on a regular basis so that it is safe and functioning properly. It is illegal to drive an “unsafe” vehicle as it presents risks to other road users. You may be stopped at any time by law enforcement for a vehicle inspection; and if your vehicle failed the inspection, you may be ordered to have it fixed immediately or within 48 hours depending on how unsafe it is [14].

We’ve covered seat belts, head restraints, and other passenger restraints previously, the following are the required safety equipment required by the State of Florida, and how they are maintained.

Laws and Initiatives

In November 2011 FDOT initiated Florida’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan (PBSSP), designed to provide a comprehensive strategy on improving the safety for Florida’s vulnerable road users [7]. This initiative included several campaigns such as the Alert Today Alive Tomorrow campaign to provide laws and tips pertaining to pedestrians and bicyclists, the One Foolish Act campaign targeting impaired drivers impacting pedestrians and bicyclists, and the National Stop on Red Week campaign. In addition, the implementation of the Florida Motorcycle Strategic Safety Plan, Motorcycle Safety Coalition initiative is targeted to reduce motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries by five percent annually. Bike lanes, bike boxes, speed reducing measures, and advanced stop lines have been implemented throughout Florida.

Brakes

Brakes are one of the most important safety features in a vehicle. Can you imagine driving without the ability to brake? How dangerous would that be? Brakes work best when paired up with tires that are properly inflated and have sufficient tread.

The State of Florida requires all vehicles driven on Florida roads to have two braking systems – service brakes and parking brakes [1]; each must be able to stop the car alone. Your service brakes are dual hydraulic and are the ones that are used when you press the brake pedal. The parking brake is manually or mechanically applied, either by pressing a second brake pedal to the left or by lifting a hand brake between the driver and front passenger seats.  For newer cars, an electronic parking brake (button) might replace the traditional mechanical system. By pressing or pulling the button, motors on each brake calliper squeeze the pads into the disc.
You will hear a reassuring whirring of the motors as the button is pressed or pulled, meaning that you know the car is held safely. In all cases, the parking or emergency brake should be strong enough to hold the car on any hill. In terms of stopping distance, your brakes must be able to stop your vehicle within 25 feet from a speed of 20mph [15].

For brake maintenance, check to see that the pedal stays well above the floor when you step on it. If the car pulls to one side when you use the brakes or if you hear any scraping or squealing noises, your brakes may need to be repaired [1].

Tires

The function of tires is to cushion the ride and allow you to control and steer your car and stop. By providing traction, your vehicle can stick to the road and actually move. In order for your tires to function properly, they should have a visible tread of at least 2/32 of an inch across the base with no worn spots showing the ply [1]. When the tread depth is too low, your tires will not be as effective. You should often inspect for proper inflation/tire pressure, even tread wear, and damage. For testing, if you were to put a penny into the treads with Lincoln going in head first, the top of his head should be entirely visible.

Windshield

By separating you from the outside conditions, the windshield is designed to protect you from the external environment, while allowing for greater visibility. It also provides structural strength for your vehicle and keeps you and your passengers safe inside during a crash. The windshield also acts to support side airbags when they inflate. The State of Florida requires your windshield to be made with safety glass and may not be covered or treated with any material that makes the windshield reflective or non-transparent [1]. Although you should keep it clean and clear inside and out, the law allows you to cover a small part of it if you need to display a certificate or other documents as required by law. Windshield wipers should come standard with all windshields and must be self-operated and automatic. Wipers would need to be replaced right away if they start to make visibility worse for you by leaving streaks or clear only part of your windshield.

Windows

Besides your windshield, you must keep your windows (side and rear) clean and clear so you have good visibility when driving. These windows can be composed of, covered by, or treated with sun screening material, but only if it does not reflect more than 35% of light (rear window) and 25% of the light (side windows), and does not have a highly reflective or mirrored appearance. If the rear window is covered by or treated with any material that makes it non-transparent, the vehicle must be equipped with side mirrors on both sides that allow the driver a view to the rear of at least 200 feet [1].

Mirrors

When driving in Florida, your vehicle needs to have at least one rear-view mirror with view 200 feet to the rear [1, 16]. Most cars on the road have 3 adjustable mirrors to provide additional visibility [17]:

  • One affixed to the left side of the vehicle
  • On affixed to the rights side of the vehicle
  • One mounted inside, often attached to the windshield

Exhaust System

Exhaust systems are used to reduce noise and limit the amount of emissions that are released from the engine into the air. In Florida, your vehicle’s exhaust system must be in good working order and must constantly operate while the vehicle is being driven. A faulty exhaust system, or one that has been tampered with, pollutes the air with increased amounts of exhaust fumes, lowers gas mileage, reduces the efficiency of your vehicle, and increases maintenance costs. If you neglect to take care of the problem, you will be fined $30. However, if you tamper with the exhaust system, the fine can increase to as much as $1,000 [18] [19].

Horn

Horn is used to warn other drivers when it is needed for safety, for example, when someone is backing up and is about to hit your vehicle. In Florida, the horn needs to be heard from a distance of 200 feet [1].

Bumper

Owners of automobiles and pickup trucks are required to have both front and rear bumpers mounted within certain height levels. Height limitations are governed by the net shipping weight of the vehicle, not the modified or altered weight. The maximum allowable heights between the pavement and bottom of the front and rear bumper are [1] [20]:

Vehicle WeightFrontRear
Cars < 2500 lbs.22 in.22 in.
Cars 2500–3499 lbs.24 in.26 in.
Cars ≥ 3500 lbs.27 in.29 in.
Trucks < 2000 lbs.24 in.26 in.
Trucks 2000–3000 lbs.27 in.29 in.
Trucks 3000–5000 lbs.28 in.30 in.

Vehicle Lightning

Vehicle lights are used to help you see where you are going, especially under sub-optimal conditions (i.e. night time, in the rain, etc.). Lights also allow others to see you clearly and allow you to communicate your intentions with other road users. It is therefore essential to have clean and working lights at all times. Yes, it’s the law. Lights that are inoperable or obscured may compromise your safety and that of others on the road. If the bulbs burned out, replace them. There are many types of lights [1]:

Headlamps – These are your vehicles’ most important lights. You need your headlamps when driving in the dark or under adverse weather conditions. There are two sets of headlamps:

  • Low Beam Headlights: Mounted at 24 inches from the ground and visible from 1000 feet, these must show objects at least 150 feet ahead.
  • High Beam Headlights: Mounted at 54 inches off the ground and visible from 1000 feet, these must show objects at least450 feet ahead.

Taillights: When you turn on your headlights at nights, your taillights are activated automatically. This helps to increase your vehicle’s visibility. Every vehicle is required to have two red taillights, visible from 1,000 feet.

Brake lights: When pressed down on your brake pedal, your brake lights are activated. These consist of two red brake lights and must be visible from 300 feet in the daytime and at night.

License Plate Light: When your headlights and taillights are turned on, a white light that illuminates the rear license plate should also activate. This light needs to be strong enough to make your license visible from 50 feet.

Directional Signals: Your turn signals let other drivers know that you plan to turn or make a lane change. They need to be visible during the day and night hours from a distance of at least 500 feet. The lights in front must be either white or amber, while those in the rear must be either red or amber. If they stop working, you will need to use hand signals until you have these lights.

Reference

 

[1]Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, “The Official Florida Driver License Handbook,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.flhsmv.gov/handbooks/englishdriverhandbook.pdf. [Accessed 18 10 2017].
[2]“Florida Statutes 316-183, 316.1895,” [Online].
[3]Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature, “The 2017 Florida Statues,” [Online]. Available: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0318/Sections/0318.18.html. [Accessed 18 10 2017].
[4]“Florida Statute 318.18(3),” [Online].
[5]“Florida Statute 318.18 (5)(a),” [Online].
[6]“Florida Statute 318.18 (5)(c),” [Online].
[7]“Florida Statute 318.18 (5)(b),” [Online].
[8]“Florida Statute 318.18 (5)(c),” [Online].
[9]“Florida Statute 322.0261 (4),” [Online].
[10]“Florida Statute 322.0261 (4),” [Online].
[11]“Florida Statute 316.191,” [Online].
[12]“Florida Statute 316.191 (3)(b),” [Online].
[13]“Florida Statute 316.191 (3)(c),” [Online].
[14]“Florida Statute 316.610,” [Online].
[15]“Florida Statutes 316.261, 316.262, 316.263,” [Online].
[16]“Florida Statutes 316.2953, 316.2954,” [Online].
[17]“Florida Statute 316.294,” [Online].
[18]“Florida Statute 316.272, 316.2935,” [Online].
[19]“Florida Statute 318.18(2),” [Online].
[20]“Florida Statute 316.251,” [Online].

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