Near-zero visibility conditions due to smoke and fog on Interstate 75 south of Gainesville, Florida, lead to a long line of cars and trucks colliding last weekend. At least ten people were killed.
When rescuers arrived at the scene, they had to listen because the poor visibility made it nearly impossible to visually find victims amongst the wreckage that was strewn for nearly a mile, police said.
Unfortunately, this horrible chain of catastrophic collisions could have been avoided if the drivers had made the decision to not drive in near-zero visiibility conditions.
Nobody should ever drive into smoke or fog when the visiblility is poor. No matter what the circumstances, it is better to be safe than risk serious injury or death to yourself, your passengers, and others.
If you are driving and the conditions change to fog or smoke, PULL OVER immediately. Get as far from the traveled portion of the highway as possible since cars and trucks may still collide with a stopped car on the shoulder. If it is safe to pull onto the grass, do so. Turn your car lights off and take your foot off of the brake pedal, since people tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the car to avoid injury in case another car or truck should hit it. (I have represented many clients that have been injured in good visibility conditions due to cars veering off the highway and hitting their cars while parked on the shoulder).
Always try to stay informed of road visibility conditions BEFORE you drive into a poor visibility area. If you are aware of poor conditions, stay off the road.
I will never forget what a truck driver once told me during jury selection when I asked him about accidents. He said, "There is no such thing as an accident. The word accident implies that it was nobody's fault. Actually, all collisions happen because a driver was not paying attention, a driver made the decision to drive when he should have been off the road, or a driver failed to follow the rules of the road."
The recent deadly collisions in Florida could have been avoided if the drivers had made the proper decision to not drive into fog and smoke where visibility was poor. If the drivers had used common sense and not driven in near-zero visibility, this horrific tragedy could have been avoided.