Major Ken Howes or
Florida Highway Patrol
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Highway Patrol is issuing a statewide travel advisory warning motorists of the potential dangers of driving in smoky and/or foggy conditions. Thick smoke, especially when mixed with late night and/or early morning fog, can reduce visibility to zero and create extremely treacherous driving conditions. Changes in wind direction can cause smoke from numerous fires throughout the state to cover major roadways that are being used by holiday travelers as they make their way home after the Memorial Day holiday. Smoke from the fires can appear without warning and is often times so thick that motorists are blinded by the reflection of their own headlights.
All drivers should be prepared to encounter smoky conditions while traveling, especially in the Central and North-Central areas of Florida. Major problem areas that should be avoided if possible include:
- Interstate 4 west of Orlando near U.S. 27
- Interstate 4 and Florida’s Turnpike in the Orlando area
- State Road 528 (Beeline Expressway) in the Orlando area
- State Road 600 (US 17-92) in the Orlando area
- State Road 417 (Greenway) in the Orlando area
- U.S. 301 in and around the Ocala/Gainesville area
- U.S. 19 from Old Town north into Taylor County.
FHP officials, working with the Florida Department of Transportation and Division of Forestry, have closed numerous roadways in the past several days due to dangerous driving conditions. Roads are being quickly reopened once conditions improve for safe driving.
Motorists are urged to look for roadside message boards and listen to local radio broadcasts to stay abreast of the ever-changing weather conditions. Because of the ever-changing driving conditions due to wind direction near the scene of any of the major fires throughout the state, FHP troopers are requesting assistance from the motoring public. Motorists with cellular telephones are encouraged to report adverse driving conditions by dialing *FHP (*347). The call is toll-free.
Plan your trip ahead of time and remember to monitor the local weather along your planned route. Those with internet access can visit the Florida Division of Forestry’s website to get the latest information on the location of major fires in Florida.
If visibility is reduced, you should slow down and turn your low beam headlights on.
Signal turns well in advance and brake early as you approach a stop. Remember that the car behind you cannot see either.
Keep your windshield and headlights clean, to reduce the glare and increase visibility.
If you need to pull off the roadway, it is advisable to use the nearest exit or rest area.
Be patient. It is better to delay your trip until the smoke and fog clears than to risk becoming involved in a traffic crash.
Make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up and/or secured in child safety seats. Driving in adverse conditions increases your chance of becoming involved in a crash. By buckling up, you are reducing your chance of being killed or seriously injured by as much as 50% if you are involved in a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you enter a zero-visibility area while driving, pull well off the main traveled portion of the roadway to avoid being struck by another vehicle.