TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Drivers can now use their hazard lights on the highway when there’s low visibility. The law previously passed both chambers of the Florida Legislature, and now it’s officially in effect.

The new law changes the rules for when drivers can use their hazard lights, but only on highways and when it’s hard to see, like during bad weather.

When you can flash those lights

Going forward, if you’re driving through a hurricane, or similarly bad weather while you’re on a roadway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph or higher, you can turn your hazard lights on. Specifically, the bill says the change is in effect “during periods of extremely low visibility.”

Previously, using your hazard lights on highways and roadways could get you a citation for violating the law, though enforcement hasn’t been high, historically.

Hazard lights aren’t the only fresh ink added to Florida’s statutes from the bill.

What else is changing

County and municipal governments can abandon roads and right-of-ways in residential subdivisions and drop any maintenance obligations, should the neighborhood choose to become a gated subdivision with monitored public access.

Basically, roads with limited public access, that go into gated communities which require access cards or have security monitoring wouldn’t necessarily have to be maintained by local governments.

The law says the community development district requested the inclusion of abandonment and conveyance by written resolution to be able to turn subdivisions into gated communities. The district received approval for the conveyance by a two-thirds vote by landowners and has now executed an interlocal agreement which requires that they maintain the roads and any associated drainage, street lighting or sidewalks identified.

Going forward, a reserve study of the roads, drainage, lighting, and sidewalks will have to be surveyed every five years. Annual special assessments will also be levied to maintain the the roads, as long as there are municipal or interlocal agreements in place.

 The community development district would also have to pay to install, operate, maintain, repair and replace all signs, signals, markings, striping, guardrails and other traffic control devices needed on the roads, unless they come to an agreement with local government.

Shifting cost burdens, and more

Changing up who pays for maintenance could be a huge cost-saver for local governments, and shrink how many “lane miles” they have to worry about, letting them focus on bigger infrastructure projects.

The bill also has sections dealing with contract awards for construction, and the bidding process for new projects, such as changing who is eligible, how you bid and how much time there is for continuing or renewing insurance policies after a change is made or new policy is issued.

There are also new guidelines for material extractions by contractors and other agencies involving clay, peat, gravel, sand and other substances that can be pulled out of borrow pits.

New rules for resolving construction or maintenance contracts and claims also made it into the legislation and creates a State Arbitration Board to handle claims by contractors or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.