Whether it’s a thunderstorm, hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, or other disaster, sometimes the power goes out. At these times, many people feel safer in their vehicles, thinking they can easily escape any danger by being mobile. However, without a clear understanding of how traffic should proceed in the absence of stop lights, traffic and truck accidents can easily occur. In September of 2017, after Hurricane Irma, a tractor trailer collided with a Ford truck at an intersection near Ocala, leading to the death of one driver.
Rules of the road
Every Florida and Fort Lauderdale driver took driver’s education courses in high school or passed a similar written and practical driving test that covered the appropriate measures to take when traffic signals are out. However, those courses and that information may be long buried or little remembered. The first thing to note is that daytime running lights or low beams should be on in order to increase your vehicle’s visibility. In the absence of power, every traffic signal becomes a mandatory stop sign for traffic in every direction, no matter how many lanes of traffic intersect. Vehicles should then yield to drivers to their right to determine who may proceed first.
Whether it is an emergency or not, in Florida, regular vehicles must yield to any emergency vehicle using sirens or flashing lights by pulling to the edge of the road and coming to a complete stop when on regular roads. On highways or multi-lane roads, drivers must leave the lane closest to the emergency vehicle in a safe manner. Flashing red lights indicate that a full stop is required for every vehicle. While a flashing yellow light usually means proceed with extreme caution, during power outages and other emergencies, flashing yellow lights can indicate that the traffic signal has malfunctioned and should also be treated as a four-way stop. The rule is when in doubt, every vehicle should come to a complete stop.
Unique risks for Florida drivers
During and after weather events that knock out power, roadways are transformed. Instead of the usual mix of cars, SUVs, and commercial traffic with the occasional police or other municipal vehicle, most vehicles will be for emergency services, often fire trucks, tow trucks, or ambulances. Heavier vehicles have longer stopping distances, often exacerbated by slick roads. Even in good weather, truck accidents are unfortunately not uncommon in our area, so it is vital that extra caution be taken during any emergency travel situation. Riding directly next to a truck can put your vehicle in that driver’s blind spot, as can tailgating, leading to dangerous truck accidents.
At Yeboah Law Group, our Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers hope every driver makes safe decisions during power outages. The injuries sustained in a truck accident can be devastating to individuals and families. If you have suffered a serious trauma or lost a loved one in a South Florida truck crash, please phone us at 800-TELL-SAM or fill out our contact form to arrange an appointment. We accept accident cases on a contingency fee basis.