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Driving safely in a Florida rainstorm

If you have lived in Florida for any time, you probably know how quickly the weather can turn, especially at this time of year. In the middle of a perfect day, the skies can turn dark, and the rain can fall in blinding sheets. You want to take every precaution to arrive home safely, and you hope other drivers will do the same.

It may seem as if there are two kinds of drivers during one of these summer storms. One kind of driver feels invincible and may not even reduce speed to avoid hydroplaning in standing water. The other creeps along the highway with one foot on the brake. Both kinds of drivers create a traffic hazard that can place you and your family at risk of an accident. Perhaps one of the most dangerous things you can do when caught in a heavy rain is to turn on your hazards.

Leave your flashers off

Your hazards, or flashers, indicate that your vehicle is disabled. If you must pull over for any reason, it is wise to engage your hazards to alert other drivers that you have stopped. A driver who uses the car's hazards while the vehicle is moving can cause great confusion to other drivers who may think the vehicle is stopped. For this reason, it is against the law to drive with your hazards on unless you are part of a funeral procession.

Instead of using your flashers, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends you do the following:

  • Keep your low beams on since the rain or fog reflects the light of the high beams making it more difficult to see.
  • Reduce your speed, especially if you can't see very far ahead.
  • Eliminate distractions, such as turning off the radio and asking passengers to remain quiet while you drive.
  • Do not follow other vehicles too closely since you may not have time to stop suddenly to avoid a collision.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes if your vehicle starts to hydroplane. Instead, lift your foot off the gas pedal and keep steering your vehicle straight.

You may still feel unsafe following these precautions, but if you must pull off to the side, leave as much distance as possible between you and moving traffic. Stop, engage your hazards and remain in your vehicle. Of course, there's always the chance that another driver will ignore the dangers of a Florida downpour, and this could mean injuries for you and your passengers. You then have the right to seek legal guidance for the best options for pursuing compensation through the civil courts.

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