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Deadly Collision Puts Focus on South Florida Highway Safety

Five children on their way to Disney World were among seven victims who were killed in a deadly South Florida highway collision.highway-300x184

The News-Press reported eight others were hospitalized after what authorities say was one of the deadliest traffic collisions in state history. The crash on Interstate 75 south of Alachua spilled diesel fuel across the highway. The Florida Highway Patrol reports the children were in a Pentecostal church van headed to the theme park when the collision occurred outside Gainesville. The van was an hour north of the park when a tractor-trailer collided with a car and burst into flames before running through the median divider and into oncoming traffic, where it struck the van and another semi, according to The Washington Post. 

The tragedy is being compared to a January 2012 crash south of Gainesville that killed 11 motorists and sent 18 others to the hospital after a chain-reaction collision caused by low visibility. Our Fort Myers injury lawyers remind drivers there are steps they can take to improve travel safety as we enter the height of tourism season in Southwest Florida.

Highway Injury Claims in Southwest Florida

These types of collisions often involve out-of-state motorists and can result in very serious or fatal injuries. Interstate 75 runs from State Road 826 (SR 826, Palmetto Expressway) and SR 924 (Gratigny Parkway) on the Hialeah–Miami Lakes border (northwest of Miami) to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, at the Canadian border. I-75 passes through six different states: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, and major metropolitan areas including Miami, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Lexington, Cincinnati, and Detroit.

It’s important to recognize the diverse risks of highway travel. Speaking with an experienced car accident attorney can best help protect your rights in the immediate aftermath of a collision. In many cases, an experienced law firm may be able to identify additional responsible parties or contributing factors to causation. For example, in this collision the boys were traveling in a church can. Statistically, this has proven to be among the most dangerous modes of travel. In fact, large 15 passenger vans are so dangerous the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has outlawed their use by public school systems, although many private organizations still use them. Determining all causes of a collision, and identifying all responsible parties, can be a critical factor in your ability to collect adequate damages, particularly in collisions where multiple victims are seriously injured or killed.

Highway Safety in SWFL 

Highway drivers face fewer collision risks than drivers in urban settings, where drivers face risks associated with pedestrians, cyclists, school buses and stop-and-go traffic at intersections. Understanding the risks specific to highway driving can help keep you safe.

  • High speed: Speed is the biggest risk factor. Force of collision increases exponentially with speed. The laws of physics mean a car traveling at 50 mph will strike with roughly twice the force of a car driving at 40 mph. Speed also reduces reaction time.
  • Visibility: Because of the high speed, sudden reduction in visibility, because of smoke, fog or other conditions, means a driver will have little time to react. Running into stopped or slowing traffic is another common cause of serious and fatal collisions.
  • Rear-end collisions: These can happen because of reduced visibility. But disabled vehicles at the side of the road and stopped traffic at exit ramps are also common dangers.
  • Disabled vehicles: Know what to do after you are in a collision, or your vehicle becomes disabled. Secondary collisions cause a significant number of serious and fatal injuries each year.

Whether a life-long Southwest Florida resident, or visiting the area for the first time, those involved in a serious traffic collision deserve immediate access to experienced legal help.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.