2017 marked the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end travel, with some 97.4 million people driving on a trip, and there’s no indication of a change in 2018. What’s more, Orlando, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale all landed in AAA’s top 10 holiday travel destinations.
Combine the 14 million licensed drivers on Florida roadways every day with more Floridians taking time off work for the holidays, plus the massive influx of December visitors, and it’s no surprise that Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System – or FIRES – lists the final month of the year as the top month for auto accidents three out of the last five years (2013-2017).
If you happen to end up injured by a holiday run-in on our roadways, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate your next steps. In the meantime, although there is no way to prevent every accident, the following safety tips will greatly reduce your risk of becoming another December driver statistic in Florida.
Before You Hit the Road in Florida
Whether you’re shopping local and celebrating at home or road-tripping this season, there are a couple of simple steps you can take to make getting on the roadways safer and overall more pleasant:
- Plan on daytime driving. Aside from the obvious risk of drowsy driving and low lighting conditions, research shows there are more impaired drivers at night. Already impaired vision becomes exaggerated after dark, and more drunk and drugged driving accidents happen once the sun goes down.
- Watch road conditions. Take a look at local weather and traffic apps. Knowing what to expect on the roadways before you leave can save you from lost time sitting in traffic and, if you’re prone, from bouts of road rage as well.
- Service your vehicle. Any instance of pulling over and exiting your vehicle outside of designated parking areas leaves you open to risk of accident and injury. Don’t let a lack of minor maintenance cause a major incident.
- Your oil should be changed every 3-7k miles depending on age and mileage.
- You need to check your battery for a strong charge.
- Make sure your terminals are clean.
- Inspect your tires for wear and tear – look for bulges and perform the quarter test.
- Bring your car into a brake specialist to check your pads and replace if needed.
- Rest up. Be sure you’ve had enough sleep, and skip the heavy meals – they tend to make you drowsy while driving.
- Register or update your Emergency Contact Information (ECI) online. It’s quick and easy, and in the event of an accident, first responders will be able to reach out to your loved ones quickly.
While You’re Driving in Florida
So, you’ve packed up the car, you’ve checked the roads, and you’ve already set your route. A few more pointers for the trip, and you’re at minimum risk for a December accident:
- Buckle up. Before you drop it into reverse, make sure everyone in the car has a seatbelt on, not just you and your shotgun. Data shows that 60 percent of accidents involving personal injuries had unbuckled passengers in the vehicle.
- Do yourself a favor and obey the speed limit. Excess speed factors into about 70 percent of fatal accidents. Note, the limit never exceeds 70 mph in this state.
- Just stay alert. Don’t drive when you’re drowsy – it’s dangerous. Stop every 100 miles or two hours for at least a quick break (bathroom, coffee, point of interest), or trade off if you have another driver with you. And always avoid the “three d’s” while driving:
Most of these tips, you’ve likely heard before, but each year we see the statistics, and we just can’t stress it enough – play it safe on the roads in December. A few minutes preparing will go a long way in getting you to your destination in one piece. Happy holidays!
About the Authors:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civdentil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.