Just this month, four young fraternity brothers from the University of South Florida died in a head on collision on Northbound I-275 outside of Tampa. Another young man, the driver of the Ford Expedition that caused the collision, was also killed. This collision was especially deadly because it was a wrong-way accident, with the Expedition travelling south in I-275’s northbound lanes at a high rate of speed. During the same weekend, six people also died in a similar head-on collision across the country on an LA County freeway.
Although any road can be the scene of a serious wreck under the wrong conditions, car accidents on Florida’s freeways, highways, interstates, and turnpike are often catastrophic – even when they are not wrong-way accidents. This is because of the traffic density and high speeds of vehicles on these roadways, and because large trucks crowd the lanes transporting cargo across the state. And with its international port and high population concentration, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County see a large percentage of Florida’s highway collisions.
I-95 is well-known for the dangers it poses to drivers, especially during commuting times and late weekend nights. Rush hour traffic can bring the highway to a near standstill, but when not in gridlock, it can be the site of some of the most aggressive driving witnessed by law enforcement across the region. Eager to take advantage of any opening, and frustrated with heavy traffic, drivers may take to speeding, tailgating, switching lanes without signaling, and refusing to let others merge at on-ramps and off-ramps. The Palmetto Expressway, Florida Turnpike and Dolphin Expressway also have their share of high-risk driving behaviors and road rage incidents.
Even when traffic seems to be crawling during commuting times, rear-end accidents are commonplace on Florida highways. This is primarily due to two things: distracted drivers who are trying to multitask during a frustratingly slow commute, and drivers who have become complacent because they make the same trip every day, and are paying less attention to what is going on in the lanes around them.
Tourists, newly-arrived retirees, large numbers of young “spring breakers,” truck drivers trying to make delivery deadlines, and frustrated commuters can all add to the dangers on busy Florida roadways. When you add the fact that many sections of the state’s highways were constructed over 50 years ago – and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has not been able to make improvements quickly enough to keep up with South Florida’s population boom since then – it becomes clear that highway driving can be a dangerous activity. Even the DOT’s improvements themselves can be the cause of accidents, with poorly marked temporary lane changes, construction debris on the road, excessive gravel or grooved pavement creating hazards for drivers.
Car Accidents occur on Florida’s highways every day. With so many possible contributing factors, the details of a car accident case can be confusing and difficult to navigate without legal representation. Highway accident victims should protect their rights by speaking with an accident attorney about their case as soon as possible following their collision.