I can still remember being in high school and discovering a small orange hammer in my friend’s car. Her father had given it to her to use on one of the windows should the vehicle somehow become submerged under water. At the time I couldn’t imagine a situation where that could happen, and thankfully my friend never had that experience herself. Unfortunately, however, opportunities for their use are far more common than we might think, especially in our State.
On average, Florida sees more motor vehicle drowning fatalities than any other state. According to NHTSA, of 384 such deaths nationwide between 2004 and 2007, 57 occurred in Florida. In all, 2.1% of the motor vehicle fatalities in Florida involved drowning. Given those numbers, the natural question is, “what, if anything can be done?”
A recent bill proposed by state Senator Darren Soto and State Representative Rene Plascencia takes aim at curbing those numbers. Nicknamed Chloe’s Law after University of Central Florida student Chloe Arenas who tragically lost her life after crashing into a retention pond, the bipartisan bill would have the Florida Department of Transportation to erect guardrails throughout the State. The bill specifically targets dangerous areas, requiring FDOT to build guardrails along all bodies of water where motorists have lost their lives in the last ten years.
Though guardrails would go a long way to protecting Florida motorists, there is no way that FDOT will build them around every body of water. With that in mind, it’s important to know basic safety should your vehicle become submerged and to educate your loved ones . Popular Mechanics provides an excellent piece titled “How to Escape a Submerged Car.” The long and short: don’t panic, act quickly, and use the windows instead of the doors to escape from the car. Adding one of those little orange hammers to your vehicle to break the windows is probably a good idea too.