Inclement Weather Conditions
Motorists are encouraged to monitor the changing weather conditions and adjust their driving as necessary. We have put together some safety tips below to help you arrive safely at you destination when you absolutely must be out on the road during inclement weather.
When Visibility is Low, Drive Slow
Visibility can change within seconds, so use extreme caution when driving. Wildfires, smoke, fog and heavy rain can all lower visibility on the roads. It is important for drivers to drive as safely as possible in these conditions.
DRIVE WITH LIGHTS on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more. Your lights help other drivers see your vehicle, so be sure they all work. Keep your windshield and headlights clean, to reduce the glare and increase visibility.
SLOW DOWN and watch your speedometer – before you enter a patch of fog. Be sure that you can stop within the distance that you can see. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding. Speed is a major factor in fog-related crashes.
WATCH OUT for slow-moving and parked vehicles. Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
REDUCE THE DISTRACTIONS in your vehicle. Turn off the radio and cell phone. Your full attention is required.
USE WIPERS AND DEFROSTERS liberally for maximum visibility. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if poor visibility is due to fog or moisture on the windshield.
USE THE RIGHT EDGE of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
BE PATIENT. Avoid passing and/or changing lanes.
SIGNAL TURNS well in advance and brake early as you approach a stop.
DO NOT STOP on a freeway or heavily traveled road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision. If you must pull off the road, signal (people tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog), then carefully pull off as far as possible. After pulling off the road, turn on your hazard flashers(hazard lights should only be used when you pull over to show that you are parked on the side of the road). Move away from the vehicle.
Driving During Severe Weather Conditions
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.
- Flooding safety – Never drive into moving water. If you cannot see the roadway beneath the water, do not drive through it! The water may be deeper than it appears, and the road may be washed away.
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 the FHP Live Traffic Crash & Road Condition Report website. 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 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.
More information to prepare before, during and after the storm.
Driving in Icy Conditions on Florida’s Highways
Freezing rain and ice are road hazards that Florida motorists seldom encounter, but such conditions can and have occurred in the state. Recent cold temperatures emphasize the need for caution when driving in icy conditions. When the temperature is near freezing, the roadway may look wet when in fact ice is forming.
The Patrol offers the following tips for driving in this type of weather conditions:
- Stay put. Avoid driving, if at all possible. The safest place to be is off the roads.
- Slow down. When roads are icy, vehicles don’t have the traction required to stop quickly.
- Stay alert. When the temperature is near freezing, the roadway may look wet when in fact ice is forming.
- Remember that bridges and overpasses are more prone to freezing in these types of conditions.
- Don’t attempt to pass slower vehicles.
- Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
- Gently apply your brakes and accelerate at a slow speed.
- Be patient and courteous. Driving in adverse weather conditions can be stressful.
- Remember to dial *FHP (347) from your cell phone if you are on the road and need assistance.