- Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica and Puerto Rico in 2017, causing $90 billion in damage.
- Hurricane Irma caused $50 billion in total damage and caused six million Floridians to be evacuated.
- Hurricane Harvey caused devastating flooding in Texas, dumping 51 inches of rain on a portion of the state.
No one wants to be evacuated from their home. What if you come back to nothing? What are you supposed to take with you and how do you choose what to save? It’s an overwhelming feeling to be sure.
Unfortunately, staying in place when you are ordered to evacuate may not only be against the law, but may be putting your life in danger. Evacuations aren’t called for lightly, and it’s in everyone’s best interests to heed the call to get out.
Driving during a hurricane evacuation can be tenuous. As Pensacola car accident attorneys, we have represented a variety of people who have suffered financial damage due to accidents incurred during evacuations. We have put together these tips for driving safely during a hurricane evacuation in the hopes that you and your family will be kept out of harm’s way.
1. Always Buckle Your Seat Belt
According to the NHTSA, one of the safest things you can do no matter if you’re a driver or a passenger is to buckle your safety belt. The agency estimates that in 2016, seat belts saved the lives of 14,668 people.
It’s estimated that more than 27 million people do not use a seat belt despite knowing that they have lifesaving value. In fact, 48% of the people killed in traffic collisions in 2016 were not wearing a seat belt.
2. Watch Your Speed
There’s a chance that you will be evacuating when it’s already raining. Be aware that your vehicle could hydroplane if you drive at speeds that are too fast for the road conditions. Many people don’t know that the first 10 minutes of a rainfall is the most dangerous when it comes to hydroplaning.
This is because it’s during this time that oil residue on the road mixes with water and doesn’t have a chance to run off. A car traveling as slow as 35 mph can hydroplane, so watch your speed.
3. Be Prepared for Broken Traffic Signals
It’s important to remember that signage and signals may be knocked down due to high winds. Don’t assume that you have the right of way when you come to an intersection.
Always treat an intersection with no signage as a four-way stop. Police may be spread too thin to direct traffic at every intersection in the area, so it’s up to every driver to behave as they should.
4. Look for Obstacles
High winds can cause things to fly through the air and come to a landing on the road. Stay alert and keep your eyes peeled on the area in front of your car. Scan the horizon looking for any unexpected hazards.
You may run into tree branches, large limbs and other types of debris. The sooner you see these hazards, the faster you’ll be able to react safely.
5. Keep Ample Space Between Vehicles
Don’t ride the bumper of the vehicle in front of you, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in or how irritated you are. If the vehicle in front of you has to come to a sudden stop, you won’t have time to stop before you collide with them.
There are very few situations in which you will not be cited for following too closely.
6. Don’t Drive Through Water
Resist the temptation to drive through a flooded roadway. You can’t tell how flooded the road is by looking at it, and it takes less water than you think to pick your car up and make it start floating away.
It takes as little as six inches of water to force your car to lose contact with the road and cause you to lose control. Two feet of water can sweep your car away.
7. Stay Off Your Phone
Put your phone in your bag or on the seat next to you and leave it alone. Driving while paying attention to your cell phone is dangerous. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you’re putting other people at risk as well.
There is nothing that can’t wait. If you need to make an emergency phone call, pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot.
8. Plan Your Route
By planning your route, you have less to think about. The police may have planned your route for you. If not, know the easiest way to get to the evacuation center or to friends, family or even a hotel, if that’s your choice of destination.
For additional safety tips, you can visit CDC.gov.
While no one wants to have to leave their home in the face of a hurricane, staying can be more dangerous than you anticipate. If you are ordered to evacuate, take the order seriously and leave your home behind. Material items can be replaced, but your health cannot.
Our Pensacola Car Accident Attorneys Are Here for You
If you are injured in North Florida in a car wreck during hurricane evacuation, you need an experienced Pensacola personal injury attorney. Reach out to our office today to schedule your free case evaluation. We are here for you and your family and will fight to ensure you are compensated in the amount allowed by law. Call today for the representation you deserve.