Florida Highway Patrol is reminding motorists it’s that time of year again when driving in inclement weather becomes a life skill.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes Florida is known for extreme weather, and rapidly changing weather conditions, both of which can catch even veteran motorists off guard.
Avoiding Weather-Related Accidents in SWFL
Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers see several common causes of weather-related accidents in Florida:
- Visibility: Smoke, fog and heavy rain reduce your visibility. Drive with your low beam headlights on, slow dow and keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, use your turn signals, wipers and defrosters, and avoid distraction. Never stop in the road, which often results in a chain-reaction collision as motorists approaching from behind are not expecting stopped traffic.
- Heavy rain and high wind: Stopping safely off the side of the road, beneath an overpass if possible, is the safest spot to wait out a blinding storm. Do not attempt to forge ahead if you can’t see at least several car lengths ahead of your vehicle.
- Water hazards: Standing water is an obvious hazard. Just a few inches of water is enough to make a vehicle hydroplane off the road or bog down and stall out. What is less commonly discussed are the risks of canals, retention ponds and other water hazards in SWFL.
Submersion Car Accidents in South Florida
A comprehensive study of all flooding deaths in the U.S., from 1959 -2005 found that the annually about 100 people, on average, perish in floods, making them the second-deadliest weather related hazard, after heat. More than 60 percent of those deaths occur in vehicles.
Too many believe erroneously that wearing a seat belt will hinder their ability to escape if they end up in a canal or other body of water. In reality, the seat belt will likely keep your conscious and seated in place until escape becomes possible. Florida authorities urge drivers to stay calm, unbuckle their seat belts and assist other passengers.
Occupants of vehicles that are floating or sinking slowly should be able to roll down their windows and escape. For those sinking more rapidly, water pressure from outside will make it impossible to open the door or window, in which case you will need to remain calm while waiting for the pressure to equalize. You may use the time to get rid of heavy clothing, particularly shoes, which will weigh you down once you enter the water.
Unfortunately, most modern vehicles come with power windows, which may be inoperable in a submersion accident. In such cases, it may be possible to break the window with the edge of your seatbelt or other available implement. Despite the risks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association has not reviewed vehicle escape worthiness since the 1970s.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.