Weather Conditions Could Be a Possible Defense For Florida Traffic Citations

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

The winter storm still raging along the East coast has had adverse effects on southern states like Georgia, but now even the sunshine state has proven it can be touched by winter weather. CNN reports that approximately 50 Florida homes have been damaged by weather that came in through the cold front. Unlike the northern most states, many southern locales were ill prepared for large amounts of icy rainfall and local firefighters and officials were simply caught off guard.

On Wednesday afternoon in Tampa, Florida, 16 rollercoaster riders were in need of rescue when the amusement park ride they were enjoying crawled to a grinding halt leaving them stranded on the tracks. A Polk County cold front combined with a tornado damaged 17 Polk County homes this past week. Everything from propane gas leaks to down trees have been reported.

 As residents buckle down to take on 70 mile per hour wind storms, traffic conditions stand to be exacerbated as well. Storm related pileups and collisions are now being seen in the midst of the sunshine state. In a Manatee County case, one 48 year old Floridian was involved in a fatal accident as a direct result of the gusty weather conditions and if history repeats itself, many more weather related traffic mishaps could occur.

In 2012, during a massive Florida storm, more than 50 Sarasota drivers collided on Interstate 75. A spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol suggested leaving a safer traveling distance between cars as a possible pileup prevention method. During the previous episode, the storm was cited as the cause of the event, relieving the many injured drivers of the blame. The incident, which resulted in 52 injuries total, could serve as a sign of future traffic conditions as this 2014 storm continues.

So far, the East Coast 2014 Storm has been linked to more than 1,000 accidents per state. Traffic citations and/or collisions that occur under severe weather conditions are often more easily defended in a courtroom. In the case of the 50 car pileup, drivers wedged between cars or losing control of their vehicles against the current of the wind were not found to be at fault. Just as the Bush Gardens rollercoaster event could be defended by citing the unexpected precipitation, other collisions and violations also fall under this category. Even the best of drivers can sometimes prove no match for Mother Nature.

Lack of visibility and loss of control do to slippery roads are all viable defenses to taffic infractions in accordance with Florida law. It is also notable to mention that debris and fallen objects, such as the fallen trees in Polk County can pose unavoidable driving hazards. Local news organizations are reporting the south to be in a state of gridlock which can pose potential hazards some Floridians might not be privy to. As Florida stands in the aftermath of a wintery arctic blow, drivers should carefully buckle their safety belts and attempt to prepare for the unexpected.