Oh those sneaky amendments. A few years ago bicyclists were blindsided by the insertion of a mandatory bike lane law into transportation bill HB 971.
This year pedestrians are quite literally being blindsided by an amendment to HB 7125 filed on the second-to-last day of the 2013 Florida Legislative Session. Here’s how it reads (new language in red, bold emphasis mine):
316.075(1)(c)1. A notice of violation and a traffic citation may not be issued for failure to stop at a red light if the driver is making a right-hand turn in a careful and prudent manner at an intersection where right-hand turns are permissible. A notice of violation and a traffic citation may not be issued under this section if the driver of the vehicle came to a complete stop after crossing the stop line and before turning right if permissible at a red light, but failed to stop before crossing over the stop line or other point at which a stop is required.
Yep. Truth is stranger than fiction. While FDOT, local governments and law enforcement agencies are working on initiatives to improve pedestrian safety — to rid our cities and state of the dubious distinction of being the pedestrian-killingest place on earth — the Floriduh Legislature is changing statute to allow right-turning motorists to drive into active crosswalks without stopping first. What the hell were they thinking?
It turns out this is related to red light cameras. Apparently right-turning motorists were getting tickets for running red lights. The staff analysis cites concern over a survey conducted by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in which 45 of 73 law enforcement agencies using the red light cameras were issuing citations for right-on-red violations. Only 16 of those agencies had a policy defining the statute language “careful and prudent manner.”
According to staff analysis, the purpose of the amendment was to “[provide] guidance to DHSMV and local governments as to what constitutes a ‘careful and prudent manner’ for the purpose of issuing a red light camera citation for a right-on-red violation.”
In other words, the statute language was too vague, so the legislature decided to define “careful and prudent” as stopping anywhere you want, even if you blow past the stop bar — which is there to PROTECT PEDESTRIANS who happen to have a walk signal.
As if people weren’t already oblivious to the meaning of a stop bar. As if they didn’t already regard right-on-red as an entitlement. As if they didn’t already forget the part about how they’re supposed to stop first. SMH!