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At-fault drivers face remediation class requirement

By Staff | Dec 31, 2009

Beginning Friday, Florida motorists found at-fault in three crashes within a 36-month period will be required to pass a driver improvement course.
The new state law, which goes into effect at the start of the year, requires affected motorists to participate in a 16-hour course that includes “behind-the-wheel training and an assessment of their driving ability.” Motorists must successfully complete the course within 90 days or have their driving privileges canceled, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“In an effort to make our roads safer, those who display a pattern of poor driving ability or judgement will be required to complete a driver improvement course,” Julie L. Jones, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said in a prepared statement.
The new law, Florida statute 322.0261, was enacted earlier this year during the legislative session and will count at-fault crashes as far back as January 2007. According to officials, the department will notify motorists who cause a crash after the law goes into effect and who have at least two at-fault crashes in the previous 36 months.
Courtney Heidelberg, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said four hours of the course must be actual driving training, while the remaining 12 hours may be taken online or through a class. The course must be taken at a Florida licensed driving school and the cost will depend on the school.
“We approve the curriculum, but it would be a commercial driving school that would offer such a course,” she said.
According to the department, there were 3,277 motorists from nearly every age group with three or more at-fault crashes during a 36-month period that ended Dec. 31, 2008. Statistics from the department’s Web site state that 15,556,658 were licensed to drive as of January 2009, with 488,132 of those licensed in Lee County.
“This is very much safety driven for our motorists,” Heidelberg said. “We won’t get a lot of money from it.”
The department predicts that “more than 1,000 Florida drivers may be subject to the new requirement during 2010.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average cost of a crash in the United States is approximately $38,000.