VanNess & VanNess, P.A.
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Does Florida need to do more to protect motorists from drowning?

The things that people like most about living here in Florida are the temperate climate, the sunny skies and, of course, the magnificent scenery. Indeed, in addition to the beachfront views and the pristine splendor of the Everglades, the state is filled with natural waterways, ponds and lakes that only add to its beauty.   

As wonderful as these waterways, ponds and lakes are, they frequently run alongside roads and highways lacking any sort of guardrail, creating a very unassuming -- yet very real threat -- for motorists. Indeed, the Sunshine State actually leads the nation in drowning fatalities among motorists.

Do state officials even realize how much of a problem this is?

While the answer to this question has long been no, it appears as if that might be changing. Indeed, they appear poised to take action following the tragic death of University of Central Florida student Chloe Arenas who drowned after accidentally driving into a retention pond this past summer.

What exactly is being done?

Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) and Sen. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) are sponsoring legislation in their respective chambers that, if passed, would mandate the installation of guardrails along any body of water in the state where a vehicle drowning has occurred since July 1, 2006, or will occur by July 2016. The legislation is called Chloe's Law.

What else does Chloe's Law call for?

The bill would also require the Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of roadways located next to waterways, and submit a report to the state legislature outlining the scope of the problem and possible updates to existing safety guidelines by Jan 2017.

What chance does the legislation have of passing?

Now that the bill has been formally introduced, it must be reviewed and approved by various committees between now and the end of the year. If this happens, Chloe's Law will be considered by the full chambers during the next legislative session, which commences in January 2016.

Experts indicate that its prospects of passing are good given that the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of Chloe's Law in September.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by the recklessness of another, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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