Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Holding drivers accountable for accidents

Starting today in Florida, drivers who flee an accident involving a death will face mandatory prison time, and any hit-and-run driver involved in an accident with serious injuries will be committing a second-degree felony. Pushed by grass roots activists, this commonsense law reinforces the social contract that the well-being of crash victims trumps a driver's potential self-interest. Law enforcement officials should widely promote their new tool and let motorists know that driving away after an accident is a gamble they no longer can afford to take.

Florida's lax laws on hit-and-run incidents have created an environment where drivers involved in car crashes often step on the gas rather than wait for law enforcement. One devastating incident after another bears witness to the disturbing trend. Just last week, St. Petersburg police said Marquice Anderson fled after driving the wrong way down a street and smashing into a car, killing three young mothers. Anderson stayed on the run for several days before turning himself in Monday.

In 2012, about 17,000 people were injured in hit-and-run crashes in Florida, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Of that total, 166 died. Too often, perpetrators don't see much downside to fleeing, particularly if they have been drinking. The new law, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, was named for just such a case. Cohen, a 36-year-old father, was riding his bicycle in Miami in 2012 when he was struck by a car. The hit-and-run driver turned himself in 18 hours later but ultimately received a sentence of less than two years — less than he might have faced had police had been able to pursue evidence toward a DUI manslaughter charge.

The new law requires drivers involved in a crash with serious injuries or death to remain at the accident scene. Failure to do so results in felony charges and, in the case of a death, a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. Separately, people who flee while driving under the influence also face a four-year mandatory minimum sentence, double the old punishment. All convicted hit-and-run drivers will have their licenses revoked for at least three years.

No one should hit someone and drive away. Stopping could provide the chance to assist the injured or call for help. And it shouldn't take a law to promote common decency. But rapid and regular enforcement of this new law reinforces that with the privilege of driving also comes the responsibility to stay at the scene. Always.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18