While the winter months bring snow to much of the country, Florida receives rain and a lot of it. Just last week South Florida received about 18 inches of rain over a quick 24 hour period. With over a foot of rainfall, much of Palm Beach County and St. Lucie County had to deal with flooded streets and flooded homes, even forcing schools to close throughout the area. In fact, I-95 was even closed for a portion of time near Boynton Beach. As Flood Warnings will continue over the next several months, it is extremely important for all Florida drivers to understand not only the implications of heavy rains, but also the safest ways to operate vehicles during and after these storms.
First and foremost, Florida motorists need to spend time brushing up on Florida laws in relation to driving in the rain. For instance, did you know that Florida law requires drivers to turn on their headlights when it is raining? Turning headlights on does wonders to increase visibility on the roads, a critical aspect to safe driving in the rain. Motorcycle riders are required to keep their headlights on at all times, even during the clear daytime. Drivers are encouraged to turn on their headlights even in light rain. It is always better be safe and visible than unseen and sorry. When in doubt, turn on your headlights!
Another great example of Florida law confusion is in regard to hazard lights. Can you drive with your hazard lights on during heavy rainstorms in Florida? No! According to Florida law, drivers must only turn on their hazard lights in they are pulled over on the side of the road or stalled – only when the vehicle is stationary. Hazard lights may seem like the right idea during blinding storms, but they are not! Not only do hazard lights disable turning signal lights, but they also make it difficult for the person driving behind you to tell whether or not you are braking. The Florida Highway Patrol Encourages all drivers to pull over if they are uncomfortable driving in a heavy rainstorm. In this case, you may turn on your hazard lights once you have pulled over and are stationary.
Weather projections for Palm Beach County suggest on and off rains all day today. Beyond making sure that your vehicle is visible, be sure to understand the traction limitations that are present in the rain. Even light rain will affect a vehicle’s ability to stop. Always leave for extra braking time while operating a vehicle in the rain. Also, when the rain gets very heavy it is important to remain in the middle lane, as the outside lanes are known to pool water. And remember; never drive if you are not comfortable with the weather conditions. In severe thunderstorms, it is best to wait before getting in the car. On behalf of Larmoyeux & Bone, stay dry and stay safe!