Fact: Driving In South Florida Is Dangerous. Period.
You know driving in South Florida is pretty awful when Yahoo! News dedicates an entire article to how shockingly dangerous it is here. Borrowing from the Sun Sentinel, the piece dives in to what people who are either here to stay or are just here for the winter months need to know about “driving in South Florida and how to maintain a modicum of safety amid the madness:
We rank high for accidents and distracted driving.
We don’t have the most accidents in the country, but we’re near the top. Florida placed third on the most dangerous U.S. states for driving list, with speeding the primary crash cause. Texas and California are ahead of us.
Our attention is easily diverted by our phones, our pets and our snacks. Florida ranks second only to Louisiana for distracted driving. The Florida Highway Patrol reports there are about five distracted driving accidents in Florida every hour.
You can be sure that I-95 is among the places where drivers get sidetracked. It’s the deadliest highway in the state, an almost lawless territory where a shrinking number of state troopers are writing fewer tickets as crashes spike.
I-95: Essential and deadly.
A 2020 South Florida Sun Sentinel investigation into the perils of driving on I-95 found there are fewer troopers covering the highway today than there were 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Florida produced more than a third of all fatal crashes on I-95 from Miami to Maine over five years, even though 80% of the highway lies outside Florida.
Some troopers say that parts of I-95 have gotten so dangerous they’re afraid to stop people. “I’m not going to risk my life to pull over someone speeding,” one trooper told the Sun Sentinel.
To get away from the chaos, some drivers use Florida’s Turnpike, another north-south artery. But speeding and congestion also plague that toll road, and South Florida turnpike users will soon have to deal with vexing road construction as the state begins widening some stretches from six to 10 lanes in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Construction is a constant on almost every major South Florida thoroughfare. Right now, the Florida Department of Transportation is adding express toll lanes on I-95 from Deerfield Beach to Delray Beach, a six-mile stretch to be finished by the end of 2023. The express lanes first made their appearance in Miami-Dade in 2008 and have been making their way north.
Drivers use a SunPass transponder to pay to drive in the express lanes; the cost ranges from 50 cents to an estimated $10.50, depending on the time of day, the amount of traffic and distance traveled.
Get to know Florida’s driving laws.
Here are some Florida driving laws that may differ from other states.
There are no mandatory vehicle inspections or emissions testing: The Florida Legislature ended compulsory inspections in 2000, saying they were too expensive and Florida had met clean-air standards. That’s why you often hear deafening mufflers and cars leaving a smoky trail of exhaust.
Hazard lights: Although it used to be illegal, Florida drivers can now use their hazard lights to drive in heavy rain and fog, but only on highways. The law reversed years of messaging by state traffic officials, who had been telling drivers not to use those lights in the rain.
Move over: If you’re approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, sanitation or tow truck, wrecker or construction vehicle with warning lights on, you have to move over a lane to give them extra space. Motorists who don’t change lanes can receive a $165 ticket.
Headlights on: Your headlights must be on if you find yourself in rain, smoke or fog, no matter what time of day it is.
Texting and driving: You cannot text or email while driving, but you can when stopped at a light. Florida law allows drivers to talk on handheld devices, but it’s illegal to use a handheld device in a school or construction zone while workers are present.
Red light cameras: Cameras that film your car as you go through a red light have been controversial in Florida, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that they are legal. Several cities use them, including Pembroke Pines and Boynton Beach. Tickets are $158.
How to be a safe Florida driver
Here are some ways to drive defensively amid the insanity, courtesy of Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
- Don’t engage with a driver who is suffering from road rage. If you’re able, get his license plate and call 911 or Florida Highway Patrol at *347. Pull over to get out of his way if you can.
- Stay out of the blind spot of trucks.
- Don’t cut off nearby vehicles.
- Leave room when changing lanes.
- Know the speed limit and obey it.
- Take a deep breath, show some humility and be patient in traffic and changing weather conditions.
To read the article in its entirety, click here