This week’s torrential rains across much of Southwest Florida are a reminder that rainy season is upon us, and is perhaps arriving a bit early this year.
If you are new to Southwest Florida, or just visiting, the force of tropical rain storms may take you by surprise. While rain storms up north typically build to several moments of blinding rain, storms in South Florida are likely to result in blinding rain from start to finish. While such downpours are typically relatively brief, they can reduce visibility to zero and quickly make safe driving impossible.
Our car accident attorneys in Fort Myers and Cape Coral urge all motorists to respect the risks of rainy season, and remind you that there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Service your vehicle: Spring and autumn are natural reminders of vehicle maintenance needs throughout much of the country, as the snow arrives or melts away. But South Florida’s endless summer makes it important that drivers remember to have their vehicle inspected and serviced each year. Spring is the best time to do it, with particular attention paid to your tires. The brutal heat can quickly wear tires, and worn tires are a leading risk of accidents in rainy weather.
- Stay Aware: The good news when it comes to South Florida’s torrential rains is that they are rarely a surprise. Rains are most common in the late afternoon and are usually visible as dark storm fronts that extend to the ground on the horizon. Avoid driving during an approaching storm, and wait for it to pass if possible. If driving is unavoidable, be prepared to stop and wait it out.
- Pull Over: Visibility will often be reduced to zero. Be prepared to pull over and wait it out. Don’t attempt to drive through such a storm. Being forced to stop in the roadway can be just as dangerous as you risk being rear-ended.
- Avoid Standing Water: Never drive into standing water. Just a few inches of water can float a vehicle. Drainage in Southwest Florida is often inadequate during the height of a storm, and standing water may remain from several minutes to several hours after a storm. Make a note of where such water accumulates and do your best to avoid those areas during and after torrential rains.
- Beware Submersion: Southwest Florida’s many lakes, rivers, retention ponds and canals make submersion accidents a serious threat. Know and understand what to do if your vehicle is submerged. Many drivers keep a tool in their glove box to break a window in case of emergency. In some cases, the tip of your seatbelt balled into a fist may work. It’s not overkill to be prepared and to talk to younger riders about what to do in the event of an emergency. Knowing what to do in those moments can make all the difference when it comes to staying safe.
Weather-related traffic accidents make for complex insurance claims. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer in Fort Myers or Cape Coral as soon as possible after an incident occurs. Carefully documenting the scene and weather conditions may be critical to protecting your rights.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.