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Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety highlights need for stricter road laws in Florida

Heavy traffic is seen along I-95 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Posted at 9:05 AM, Jan 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 11:28:27-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida can be a very dangerous place to drive in, but there's one group that says our state just doesn't go far enough to keep us safe on the roads.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety just released their annual report on how safe our roads are in Florida, covering seat belt use, motorcycle safety and child seat restraint laws.

"Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t a news story, article or editorial piece about driverless vehicles -- cars, trucks and buses with complex computer systems and automated functionality that assume the role of human drivers," said advocacy group president, Catherine Chase. "In an ideal world where these systems perform reliably and safely, they hold tremendous promise to make significant reductions in preventable crashes, deaths and injuries as well as expanding safe mobility choices."

A map in the report shows Florida as one of only 11 states marked with the lowest safety ratings in the country. That means the state has only one or no laws regarding primary enforcement front seat belt law, primary enforcement rear seat belt law and all-rider motorcycle helmet law.

The advocacy group says Florida needs to have a law requiring people in the backseat wear a seat belt. They also say Florida's distracted driving laws are simply not tough enough.

It is illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be pulled over if a law enforcement officer sees them doing something else, like speeding.

The report also says all riders on a motorcycle should have to wear a helmet.

Finally, the group is pushing for an ignition interlock law, which would force drivers with a DUI to install a device on their car that makes them test their blood alcohol limit. It would stop them from driving if they fail the breath test.

The group also presents the need for basic road safety laws to keep kids safe.

The reports shows Florida is one of dozens of states that doesn't have a law requiring kids to be rear-facing in a car seat until the age of two. Keeping kids rear-facing can help prevent head, neck and spinal cord injuries in a crash or even a sudden stop.

Florida also doesn't have a law requiring kids to be in a booster seat until 8 years old.

There’s also serious concerns for teen drivers in Florida, according to the report. There isn't a law preventing teens from driving with too many passengers in the car. The group is also pushing for laws requiring drivers under 18 years old to have a restricted license.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2008 to 2017, young drivers killed more than 3,600 people in Florida.