Chloe’s Law is the name given to recent Florida legislation that mandates protective barriers for retention ponds and other bodies of water near highways. The law is named for Chloe Arenas, a University of Central Florida student who died after her car plunged into a pond on Alafaya Trail in Orlando. The 21-year-old woman was pronounced dead after divers pulled her vehicle from the pond. The bill is designed to protect others who may face the same danger when driving near bodies of water.
A Family Takes Charge
Chloe’s family and friends were instrumental in bringing the bill on for a first reading. The family contacted attorneys who work with legislators at the Florida House of Representatives and were encouraged to pursue drafting the bill.
A petition set up on Change.org received more than 3,500 signatures in a week, partially due to friends working with the media to inform Floridians of the proposed law.
A Recurring Problem
Florida has the highest rate of victims drowning in vehicles in the United States, according to federal data. Between 2008 and 2012, 49 people died when their cars went into a body of water.
Supporters of Chloe’s law claim that the bill addresses a problem that should have been solved long ago. The bill would mandate that the state place protective barriers around any body of water near a public highway where cars have been known to crash and victims to drown. This would prevent cars from plunging into the water if the drivers lost control or were hit by another car.
Legislation to Prevent Tragedy
State Senator Darren Soto of Kissimmee and State Representative Rene Pasencia of Orlando are working together in a bipartisan effort to sponsor the 2016 bill. If passed, the bill could require numerous counties or the state to construct guard rails. It is unclear how much the bill could cost local and state governments, but supporters say that if even one life is saved, the cost will be justified.
The bill will now begin its journey through the state legislature. If the bill is passed, it would take effect next year and county and state officials would have a certain amount of time in which to comply with the new law.