We recently wrote about parking lot injury risks as holiday shoppers return to local malls and box stores. But the reality is the holiday travel season is full of year-end risks that can often be mitigated with planning, some forethought, and a focus on safety.
In August, WINK News reported two children were recovering after a near-drowning incident in Cape Coral. Child drownings in Florida happen way too often. Twenty-three kids died in the water in 2019. In less than eight months, 29 more kids have drowned in Florida thus far this year. WINK News reported the family was visiting from out-of-state. In January, Cape Police investigated a separate incident involving toddlers ages 3 and 4 and there have been several other drowning deaths in Lee County this autumn.
The Fort Myers Boat Show kicks off this weekend in downtown Fort Myers amid unprecedented interest and demand for all things boating as Southwest Floridian’s continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of guests were expected and plenty of masked and unmasked faces were present as preparations this week were delayed by the meandering and prolonged path of Hurricane ETA, which finally made landfall as a tropical storm near Tampa, after wandering past Miami and spending several days off the coasts of Naples and Fort Myers Beach.
No doubt 2020 has been one for the record books.
While we await official predictions about the upcoming holiday travel season, there are early indications that many are seeking a return to near-normalcy as the nation and the world slowly move past the Presidential election and into the year-end holidays.
Thanksgiving is typically the biggest travel day of the year, which frequently makes it among the deadliest times of the year on the road. This year, gauging the factors influencing those risks is a lot like predicting the outcome of our historic election. Our Fort Myers injury lawyers wish you good health and good fortune as we prepare to put 2020 behind us.
Our injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know the year-end holidays are among the most dangerous times of the year for our young drivers. We have seen these tragedies forever ruin the holiday season for far too many families.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles got a jump on holiday travel safety as part of its participation in national “Teen Driver Safety Week” in late October.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 2,500 teens are killed and nearly 300,000 are injured every year in traffic collisions. Those ages 16-19 face risks three times higher than other motorists on the road. The news is no better in Florida, where more than 63,000 collisions a year involve teenagers.
Back-to-school, early darkness, returning seasonal residents, and harried holiday shoppers will converge in local parking lots over the next six weeks. Statistically, it is the most dangerous time of the year for parking lot injuries. While northerns must also deal with the beginning of winter snow and ice, our injury attorneys in Fort Myers and Cape Coral know Southwest Floridans are far from immune to the risks.
Children are at highest risk of being seriously injured or killed. Those risks begin with the start of school year, with drop-off and pickup lines and continue into the year-end holiday shopping season. Elderly residents are also at elevated risk for accidents in parking lots.
More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 on road safety is still being studied. Certainly there was a marked drop in traffic collisions through the spring and early summer, as lockdown orders shuttered bars, restaurants and all but essential businesses and most of Southwest Florida sheltered in place.
But with Gov. Ron DeSantis lifting remaining restrictions at the start of October, and the height of tourism season right around the corner, there is growing evidence that the roads of Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties are once again getting more dangerous.
And perhaps in new ways.
The decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis to lift the remaining COVID restrictions coincides with the return of early darkness and the start of the tourism season in Southwest Florida.
DeSantis started October by announcing Phase 3 reopening in response to economic realities and stabilizing numbers of coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants and resorts were among the businesses permitted to return to full capacity, according to the Orlando Sentinel, although most are still expected to adopt social-distancing and other policies to help mitigate risks.
Daylight Savings Time ends Nov. 1 at 2 a.m., setting the clocks back an hour. National Geographic reports a number of places are trying to end Daylight Savings Time.Love it or hate it, Southwest Florida will see early darkness at a time of year when the days are growing shorter anyway. First common in the United States during World War II, and widely adopted in the 1970s in response to the Energy Crisis, many argue early darkness and early light do not conserve energy and certainly do not contribute to road safety.
The spookiest thing about Halloween might be the increased injury risks.
We wish you the best and hope you stay safe among the ghosts and goblins that will usher in the official start of the holiday season. We’ve noticed a number of communities were already installing their holiday lights this week. Perhaps that’s fitting: As historic as it has been, few will be sorry to see the end of 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic might change Halloween some. But it’s a safe bet kids won’t be getting their candy fix on Zoom and our injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know the systemic risks will be largely the same: Pedestrian injuries, collisions caused by drunk driving, and premises liability cases stemming from injuries at resorts, nightclubs, large gatherings and riotous parties.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ September focus on drowsy driving is an important reminder of the risks as we head into the autumn travel season.
“Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is a sobering reminder that falling asleep at the wheel has deadly consequences and is preventable,” said Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes. “We urge all motorists to take responsibility and never drive drowsy.”
The agency partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Trucking Association, and AAA.