Tropical storm Beryl dissipated this week, long before reaching the Caribbean. But there was tropical storm Chris to takes its place, becoming the third named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Like storms named for the letters of the alphabet, Florida safety advocates are encouraging motorists to brush up on their ABCs when it comes to driving in poor weather. Regardless of whether mainland Florida sees any hurricane activity this year, the tropical storm season is a time of heavy rains that can make driving dangerous, and leave standing water, which can be deadly.
Driving in inclement weather usually means rain in South Florida. However, it can also mean reduced visibility from fog or wild fires. High winds can also create risks; Florida is so flat that wind can be especially strong on long stretches of road at highway speeds. Here are some of the summer road risks in Southwest Florida and how to avoid them.
- Use your low-beam headlights. Using high beams reflects percipitation and will further obstruct your vision.
- Slow down and use turn signals. Reduced reaction time means basic driving safety is even more critical.
- Avoid distraction. (Driving on a clear day requires your full attention, too).
- Use wipers and defrosters. Keep your windshield clear. Replace your wipers annually.
- Never stop in the road. This puts you at serious risk of being hit from behind.
- Turn your wipers and headlights on. Florida law requires headlights to be used whenever a vehicle’s wipers are on.
- Don’t use your hazard lights. Florida law only permits hazard lights for funeral processions or when a vehicle is disabled.
- Slow down. Anything you can do to increase reaction time will help keep you out of a collision.
- Turn around – Don’t drown: Never enter standing water or a flooded area of the road.
- Watch the wind. As discussed above, respect the power of the wind in Florida.
- Traffic-Control devices. Be prepared for inoperable street lights, traffic lights or street signs after or during a heavy storm.
Drivers most often get themselves in trouble when encountering unusual weather conditions or traffic situations. This makes emergency preparedness an important topic of conversation when it comes to road safety. Always obey mandatory evacuation orders. Our Fort Myers injury lawyers encourage you to obey voluntary evacuation orders and to allow yourself time to reach your destination safely. Expect the worst case scenario. Last year during Hurricane Irma, as it became clear Southwest Florida was going to get hit, motorists began leaving at the last minute, creating traffic jams and gas shortages. This just put them in greater danger and increased the risks for other motorists on the road.
- Avoid driving: In bad weather. Typically, it’s best to stay home, unless ordered to evacuate. Part of the reason it’s so important to obey these evacuation orders is because they will typically be issued with enough time for a motorist to leave the area before the weather does deteriorate.
- Know your destination: Carry charged cell phones and maps. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- Carry food and water for each person in the vehicle.
- Withdraw money sufficient to cover food, gas and lodging for several days.
- Be patient and expect long delays.
The other thing we saw after Hurricane Irma was people rushing back to the area. If you have evacuated, resist the urge to come right back following a storm. Lack of power, lack of operable traffic control devices, lack of fresh food and water, business closings, road blockages, downed power lines and other risks make the immediate aftermath of a storm a dangerous time.