Shiner Law Group's 4 Safety Tips for Stormy Labor Day

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National Safety Council estimates Labor Day traffic deaths at 438 victims; highest estimate in 8 years

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Labor Day is traditionally one of the deadliest travel weekends of the year; add Hurricane Hermine, and the risks of injury exponentially increase. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 42 counties, mostly in central Florida, as forecasters keep a close eye on Hurricane Hermine this Labor Day weekend.

According to the National Hurricane Center, which is located in South Florida, a peak storm surge of up to 5 feet may cause severe flooding and normally unaffected areas may become underwater.

Before Hurricane Hermine was even a factor, the National Safety Council estimated that about 438 people will be killed in traffic crashes during the Labor Day holiday weekend. This is the council’s highest estimate since 2008.

“The sheer volume of traffic, coupled with distracted drivers, over the long holiday weekend is what leads to more car accidents and unfortunately, more injured drivers,” said David Shiner, president of Shiner Law Group, P.A. “Add in the severe weather, low visibility, and possible flooded areas, and Labor Day becomes one of the most deadly and dangerous travel times of the year.”

South Florida personal injury lawyer David Shiner adds, “if you or your loved ones are traveling, here are four useful tips that will ensure you reach your destination safely.”

1. It's illegal to drive with your hazard lights on

You see it on I-95 in Palm Beach county, when rain falls in sheets and everyone is crawling, there they are: those drivers with their hazard lights flashing just ahead of you. Don’t do it. In Florida, it’s illegal (and dangerous) to drive in the rain with your hazard lights on.

According to Florida law, flashers should only be used in emergency situations when your vehicle is stopped. If you use them while the vehicle is moving, especially in low visibility conditions like a thunder storm, other drivers may think you're tapping your brake lights or trying to make a turn. It's confusing and could lead to injury or even death.

Driving with your flashers on in Palm Beach County could also land you a $116 citation. According to Shiner, there is one exception: if you're part of a funeral procession escorted by a police officer.

2. Slow down & keep a safe distance

Reduce your speed to prevent your vehicle from hydroplaning on the slick roadways. Also make sure to add extra distance between you and other vehicles to allow for reaction time.

Experts say to reduce your speed by about a third in severe weather. So if the speed limit is 55 mph, try to limit your speed to 40.

And of course, in order to lessen your risks of injury, refrain from using your cell phone while driving, especially if weather conditions deteriorate.

3. Pull over to a safe area

If you have a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel and visibility is low, pull over in a parking lot or a safe place to wait out the storm. Arriving later than expected is better than getting in a car accident or worse, not arriving at all.

It is also important to remember that during a storm, loose items, trees or powerlines could become hazardous. It is advisable that you don’t park near a tree or power lines in case one should fall on your vehicle.

4. When lightning strikes, stay in your car

If lightning is nearby, it’s best to stay inside your car. The Weather Channel advises drivers to pull over and fold their hands in their lap to avoid touching anything metal within the car. Experts recommend not touching the radio or talking on a cell phone if it’s connected to the vehicle during a lightning storm. If you see lightning, count the time between the lightning and hearing thunder. If it is 10 seconds or less, the storm is roughly 2 miles away.

Stay safe and always remember, never hesitate to reach out to your South Florida personal injury attorneys at Shiner Law Group at (561) 777-7700. If you have been injured in an accident involving a car, truck, motorcycle or bus, our aggressive and experienced team of lawyers will discuss your legal options in a free consultation.

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