One year after one of the worst highway tragedies in Florida’s history, the state has taken some safety measures and plans to take more, while families of those injured and killed filed notice that they plan to file negligence lawsuits against the state. On January 29, 2012, the stretch of Interstate 75 that runs through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park outside of Gainesville turned into a nightmare involving six crashes, twenty-four twisted and destroyed vehicles, eleven deaths and two dozen injuries.
The early morning traffic drove quickly on I-75, able to see for miles ahead, or so they thought. As traffic approached the Paynes Prairie area, thick fog combined with smoke from a nearby wildfire reduced visibility to near zero. That section of the highway had been closed for hours the night before, but it was reopened around 3 a.m. on January 29, due to somewhat increased visibility and local law enforcements’ fears of drivers taking unknown back roads in the darkness. Within 15 minutes after reopening the road, the devastating crashes began. Some of the vehicles on the roadway stopped as they realized they were unable to see ahead, but many behind them did not. One trucker told a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigator that “I could see perfect, one second later, it’s like walking into . . . a white blanket that you can’t see nothing.” The only light on the road came from burning cars. People screamed in the darkness for help and when reporters arrived on the scene hours later destroyed automobiles were scattered all over the pavement and smoke surrounded the scene.
Last April, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) issued a report that primarily blamed the FHP. The report stated that the lieutenant who ordered the road reopened had no experience to qualify him for making that decision. FHP responded by stating that even if it followed all of the recommendations set forth by the FDLE, it would have likely reached the same decision. FHP shifted blame to the drivers, stating they should have been more careful when dealing with the reduced visibility conditions. Since the accident, FHP has instituted new safety measures, including choosing a watch supervisor for each troop who will be responsible for oversight of significant incidents, and training thousands of sworn Florida Turnpike Enterprise radio communications members and reserve troops on road closure procedures and protocols.
Improvements, lawsuits mark I-75 crash anniversary, www.miamiherald.com January 27, 2013
Decreased visibility and other severe weather conditions make the roadways and operating motor vehicles particularly hazardous. Car accidents become even more dangerous and the chance of serious injury or loss of life increases exponentially. Broward car accident attorneys understand how serious law enforcement officials need to take weather conditions when determining whether to close roads or at least issue warnings. With over twenty years of experience, the Florida motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Friedland Law Group work closely with families of those injured or killed in serious car accident cases to receive the most amount of compensation for their loss. Call (305) 661-2008 for your free consultation!
The Miami personal injury attorneys at the Friedland Law Group handle all types personal injury cases throughout the state of Florida, including Boca Raton, Homestead, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Hialeah, Kendall, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The Friedland Law Group handles all types of personal injury claims, including wrongful death, defective products, medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents and construction site injuries. Call today and let our family take care of your family.