The Florida Highway Patrol urges drivers to follow safety tips that can save lives:
Stay put – Avoid driving in heavy storms, and stay in a safe place after the storm. Be prepared to remain where you are for an extended period of time. Often, injuries and deaths occur in the aftermath of storms. Sightseers impeding roadways cause obstacles for emergency personnel responding to those in need.
Slow down –. The roads remain slick after the storm so if you have to drive, decrease your speed to avoid hydroplaning.
Buckle up – When it is finally safe to venture out, take the extra time to buckle your seatbelt. It is the law in Florida, and statistics continue to show that seatbelts save lives. Four of the reported deaths related to Tropical Story Fay involved motorists who were not wearing their seatbelts.
Be cautious of high winds – Windy conditions adversely affect all vehicles, particularly high profile vehicles, such as buses and trucks, as well as motorcycles. Gusty wind makes driving difficult, especially when it is rapidly changing speed and direction.
Turn around; don’t drown – Prepare for standing water. Never drive through flooded areas, even if you are familiar with the roads. The area of roadway you cannot see beneath the water may be washed out or the water may conceal debris, tree branches or even power lines.
Pay attention – You may come up on an intersection that is no longer controlled by a traffic control device. If a police officer is directing traffic, follow their directions. Otherwise, treat the intersection as you would treat an intersection governed by a four-way Stop sign.
Hurricane evacuations: Providing a safe escape on the Florida Turnpike
Make sure your vehicle is fueled up and well serviced before you hit the road. Fuel availability may be
questionable and what is available is sure to generate extremely long lines at Turnpike service plazas.
Carry a supply of food and water for each member of the traveling party.
Do not necessarily wait to evacuate until after the announcement is made that Turnpike tolls have been
suspended. Tolls are often suspended in conjunction with mandatory evacuation orders which may
come only after the threat of a hurricane is imminent. Consider paying the toll and leaving early when
traffic is much lighter.
During toll suspensions, continue to have cash available at all times. Just because tolls are suspended
on one segment of the Turnpike does not mean they are suspended system wide. When you approach
a plaza at which the tolls are suspended, SLOW DOWN and be conscious of other motorists.
Have a specific destination in mind and the route planned well in advance of your departure. When you
travel be sure to carry any appropriate maps along inside your vehicle.
When possible evacuate tens of miles instead of hundreds of miles.
Please pack a lot of patience and be prepared for delays. Significant traffic delays are inevitable in a
state as densely populated as Florida. Again, it is important to try and avoid the rush and depart earlier
rather than later.
Getting back after the storm: If out of the area, be sure to stock up on any items that might be in short
supply in the storm affected area. Consider getting extra cash at a working ATM. Fuel up prior to
getting to an area that might have limited availability due to power outages. Follow any emergency
instructions that may be displayed on the Turnpike’s overhead dynamic message signs.
For real-time traffic and road condition reports, as well as maps and additional safety tips, FHP encourages motorists to visit www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/. Florida drivers can also call 511 on their cell phone for up-to-the-minute updates on traffic congestion, road construction, lane closures, severe weather and travel delays on Interstates and major highways.
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles encourages anyone with a valid Florida driver license or identification card to go online to www.flhsmv.gov and enter their emergency contact information. This vital information gives law enforcement immediate access to this information in cases of an emergency, which makes it easier for them to contact a family member or friend.