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What You Need To Know Before Heading On A Long-Distance Trip


The news for air travelers has been all bad. First, a systems meltdown last month at Southwest Airlines left thousands of passengers stranded over the holidays. Then, a few weeks later, thousands of flights across the U.S. were canceled or delayed after a system that offers safety information to pilots failed, so the FAA took the rare step of preventing any planes from taking off for a time, and the cascading chaos led to more than 1,300 flight cancellations and 9,000 delays by early evening that day.

Problems in the air are leading many winter travelers to and from Florida to take to the roads instead. In fact, according to the AAA a record-setting 6.3 million Florida travelers journeyed 50 miles or more away from home over the past couple months for Year-End Holidays. And countless more Americans drove into the Sunshine State from points north.

Interstate travel takes more than entering an address into the GPS. There are several things that drivers should keep in mind:

Mind Your MPH – There is no nationwide speed limit and how fast you can drive can vary by rural vs. city areas, so keep an eye out for changes when you cross state lines or hit populated places. I-95 through most of Florida is 70 MPH, but 65 MPH near its cities, as are Georgia, North and South Carolina. Passing cities in Virginia, slow down to 55. New York drivers on I-95 cannot exceed 65 MPH anywhere.

Fender Bender Beware – If you get into an accident, even a fender bender, call the local authorities and insist on getting a police report, in addition to trading drivers’ licenses and insurance information. Your hometown police department cannot provide you with the police report that your insurance company will require to make a claim, so do it right away, on-the-spot.

Stop, Rest, then Roll – Experts say to take a break approximately every two hours. If you are driving on I-95, state sponsored rest areas will provide you with a great place to stretch your legs, grab a snack, and use the restroom. Getting to your destination safely and comfortably is better than getting there quickly.

E-Z Pass or Sun Pass? – Both E-Z Pass and Sun Pass are popular prepaid systems used for toll collection.  In the recent past, you needed an E-Z Pass from Virginia northward and a Sun Pass for parts south. Today, an E-Z pass covers the entirety of I-95 or you’ll need a Sun Pass Pro Transponder if you’d like to use your Sun Pass at E-Z pass tolls.  Most tolls can also be “Paid-By-Plate” and you will receive a bill in the mail for the tolls you owe. No matter how you decide to pay, make sure that you do—accruing fines will eventually put you in legal jeopardy.

Fighting a Ticket – If you get a speeding ticket, parking ticket or any other summons out of your home state, either plan to pay the fine or call your lawyer. You won’t want to return to the state where the infraction occurs to appear before a judge, and remote options are limited. Your lawyer can advise you on all the options available.

As always, no matter whether you fly or drive to your destination, always travel safely!

Michael Pike is a business litigation and personal injury attorney. He is also managing partner of Pike & Lustig, LLP, a firm with offices in West Palm Beach, Miami and Palm Beach Gardens. He lives in Wellington with his wife and two daughters.

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