During Florida’s rainy season from May to October, storms causing any amount of rainfall create dangerous driving conditions on our roads. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the likelihood of a crash after rainfall on wet pavement is higher than on roadways covered in sleet, snow or ice. NHTSA determined that 46 percent of weather-related automobile crashes were caused by rainfall, while only 17 percent were caused by sleet, snow or ice. These statistics are due, in large part, to the fact that northerners are wary of driving during snowstorms. Floridians, however, are routinely forced to drive during hazardous rain conditions.
There are several ways that drivers can keep themselves and their passengers safe while driving during a Florida rainstorm. First, make sure that a vehicle’s tire tread is not worn. Drivers are encouraged to take a quarter and insert it upside down into their tire tread. If part of Washington’s head is always covered by the tread, the tires have more than 4/32 of an inch of tread remaining. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it is time to replace the tires. It is also important that tire pressure is checked monthly. Many newer model vehicles are equipped with sensors to alert drivers of changes in tire pressure. However, it is recommended that tires are manually checked with a gauge at least one time per month.
Secondly, worn-out windshield wipers can create an unnecessary driving hazard during rainstorms. Worn-out wipers cannot provide a clean field of vision for front windshields that is necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle. Florida sun is hard on windshield wipers, causing them to crack and become less effective. Signs that you need to replace your windshield wipers include streaking, smearing, or screeching. Additionally, it is time to replace windshield wipers when they become brittle or if they show any signs of fraying.
Drivers should also make sure that all headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals are in working order. Florida law requires that headlights be on when driving in the rain to increase visibility. Conversely, Florida law prohibits using hazard lights while driving, even during heavy rain. Florida law mandates that hazard lights be used only when a vehicle is stopped. If road conditions become too dangerous, it is recommended that drivers pull over. There is no reason to stay on the road during dangerous conditions if it can be avoided.
Lastly, it is imperative that drivers slow down during rainstorms. Speed on wet roadways is dangerous because tires have less traction. It is recommended that drivers reduce their speed by one-third of the speed limit when driving in the rain. For instance, if the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, in rainstorms drivers should aim to travel at no more than 40 miles per hour. Moreover, drivers can avoid skidding by braking gently in the rain.
Wittmer & Linehan PLLC knows that while Florida storms may be inevitable, drivers are responsible for adjusting their driving habits to meet road conditions during the rain. Florida automobile accident law allows you to recover for the injuries and property damage that you sustained as a direct result of someone else’s negligent operation of a vehicle. The experienced attorneys at Wittmer & Linehan can help you better understand your rights and assist you in maximizing the recovery for your losses and damages.