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The Impact of Weather Conditions on Car Accidents in Florida: Tips for Safe Driving

Car Accidents

Weather changes happen rapidly in Florida. The state’s tropical climate can cause severe hazards for drivers. It’s imperative to pay attention to the weather and understand how various weather-related hazards can increase the risk of car accidents. Examples of Florida’s often extreme weather include:

  • Rain and Thunderstorms: Florida experiences heavy rainfall and thunderstorms throughout the year, especially during the summer months. These conditions can reduce visibility, create slick roads, and increase the likelihood of hydroplaning.
  • Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: The state is prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, which can cause severe damage to roads, buildings, and infrastructure. High winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding are common during these weather events, posing significant risks to drivers.
  • Heat and Humidity: Florida’s hot and humid climate can lead to overheating and mechanical issues in vehicles, increasing the risk of breakdowns and accidents.
  • Fog: Dense fog can occur, particularly in the early morning or late evening, reducing visibility and making it challenging to see other vehicles or obstacles on the road.
  • Tornadoes: Although less common in Florida compared to other states, tornadoes can still occur and pose a serious threat to drivers.

Weather-related factors contribute to a significant number of car accidents in Florida each year. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 15,000 crashes in 2020 were attributed to wet road conditions, and over 4,000 crashes were caused by rain. Additionally, over 2,000 crashes occurred during foggy conditions, and nearly 1,000 accidents were linked to severe weather events such as hurricanes and tropical storms. A Florida car accident attorney can help you understand your rights if you’ve been involved in a car accident due to serious weather conditions.

How to Avoid Weather-Related Car Accidents

While drivers cannot control the weather, there are a number of steps they can take to reduce the risk of accidents in adverse weather conditions. These include:

  • Stay Informed: Keep track of weather forecasts and road conditions, especially during hurricane season. Be aware of potential hazards and plan your travels accordingly. For real-time traffic and road condition reports, the Florida Highway Patrol encourages motorists to visit the FHP Live Traffic Crash & Road Condition Report website. Florida drivers can also call 511 on their cell phones for current information on traffic congestion, road construction, lane closures, severe weather and travel delays on interstates and major highways.
  • Drive Defensively: Reduce your speed to allow for more reaction time in rainy or foggy conditions. Use your headlights and windshield wipers as needed for better visibility. Wet roads significantly reduce traction, making it harder to stop or maneuver your vehicle safely. Drive at a speed that allows you to maintain control and react to unexpected hazards. Remember that posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions and may not be suitable for inclement weather.
  • Increase Following Distance: Maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you to account for longer stopping distances on slippery roads. Increase the normal two-second following rule to at least three to four seconds or more, depending on road conditions. This extra space provides you with additional time to brake safely and avoid rear-end collisions.
  • Turn On Lights and Wipers: Florida law requires that headlights must be on if a vehicle’s wipers are in use.
  • Ensure that your headlights are turned on when driving in poor visibility conditions, such as rain, fog, or snow. This not only helps you see better but also makes your vehicle more visible to other motorists. Use low beams in foggy conditions to minimize glare and improve visibility. Avoid using high beams in heavy precipitation as they can reflect off water droplets and impair visibility further. To ensure the best visibility, headlights should be clean and clear and windshield wipers should be replaced at least once a year.
  • Be Cautious on Bridges and Overpasses: Bridges and overpasses tend to freeze before other road surfaces since they are exposed to cold air on all sides. Exercise extra caution when driving over these structures, especially during freezing temperatures or icy conditions. Slow down and avoid sudden movements to reduce the risk of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Slow Down: Maintain a safe stopping distance between vehicles and avoid passing and/or changing lanes. Skidding and hydroplaning can happen on wet pavement. Be patient and stay alert. Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings to guide you.
  • Avoid Cruise Control: Refrain from using cruise control when driving in adverse weather conditions, as it can increase the likelihood of losing control of your vehicle. Cruise control may not respond quickly enough to changes in road conditions, such as hydroplaning or loss of traction, leading to skidding or spinning out of control. Maintain manual control of your vehicle’s speed and acceleration.
  • Turn Around: Never drive through flooded areas. The area of roadway beneath the water may conceal debris or even power lines, or be washed out.
  • Be Cautious of High Winds: Windy conditions are a driving risk to all vehicles, particularly vehicles such as buses and trucks. Strong wind can happen anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces, including highway overpasses and bridges. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and give large vehicles extra room to maneuver. Be extra careful around vehicles carrying cargo
  • Be Prepared for Out-of-Service Traffic Lights: Traffic lights are designed to keep traffic flowing and prevent collisions; however, out-of-service traffic lights can be a source of confusion for drivers. If a police officer is present, follow their directions. Otherwise, proceed as if the intersection had a four-way stop sign. 
  • Avoid Distractions: Avoid distractions such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio while driving, as these can impair your ability to react to changing road conditions.
  • Maintain Your Car in Good Condition: Regularly check your vehicle’s tires, brakes, lights, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good working condition. This can help prevent breakdowns and accidents due to mechanical failures.
  • Use Caution at Intersections: Be extra cautious at intersections, as wet roads can be slippery, and other drivers may have difficulty stopping or slowing down.
  • Pull Over to the Shoulder if Necessary: If weather conditions become too severe to drive safely, pull over to the shoulder or another safe place and wait until conditions improve.
  • Stay Calm: If you find yourself in a hazardous driving situation, such as heavy thunderstorms, wind or fog, remain calm and avoid making sudden movements or overreacting as this can lead to loss of control.
  • Practice Patience: Exercise patience and avoid unnecessary risks when driving in adverse weather conditions. Remember that safety should always be your top priority, and it’s better to arrive at your destination safely and slightly behind schedule than to rush and risk a weather-related crash. Allow extra time for your journey and be prepared to encounter delays due to reduced speeds and traffic congestion.
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies: Carry an emergency kit in your vehicle containing essential supplies such as blankets, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a charged mobile phone. In the event of a weather-related breakdown or accident, having these supplies on hand can help keep you safe and comfortable until help arrives.
  • Have a Plan: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles encourages all drivers to have a disaster preparedness plan in place and to register or update your emergency contact information (ECI).

Avoiding weather-related crashes requires vigilance, caution, and preparedness on the part of drivers. By following these essential tips and adjusting your driving behavior to suit prevailing weather conditions, you can reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safer journey for yourself and others on the road.

Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney

By being aware of the weather-related hazards in Florida and taking proactive measures to mitigate them, drivers can reduce the risk of accidents and ensure safer roads for themselves and others. But sometimes, despite all of your efforts at being cautious and careful, car accidents nonetheless occur. 

Car accidents can result in serious personal injury and death. They can cause you to incur significant medical expenses and suffer lost wages. They can cause loss of enjoyment of life. In short, car accidents can result in many devastating consequences for the victim and his or her family. In many cases, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, losses, and pain and suffering. 

The lawyers at Searcy Denney have decades of experience and success in obtaining for you the compensation you deserve.  Contact us at 800-780-8607 to get the help you need. 

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