In the sunshine state of Florida, we are ranked as the 2nd highest vacation destination in the U.S. and are known for our warm weather, gorgeous beaches, lax lifestyle and large bodies of water. These beautiful bodies of water created the need for 12,592 bridges throughout the state. While completely necessary, driving or even walking or biking across a bridge is a nerve-wracking experience for many people. Unfortunately, in a state like Florida, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to cross a body of water via a bridge at some point. Below there are a few safety tips for driving safely over Florida bridges.
Take A Deep Breath
You’ve probably heard “just take a deep breath,” more than a few times in your life. In fact, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. However, controlled breathing directly connects to your central nervous system, which is deeply affected by stress and anxiety. When you become overwhelmed, or stressed, you’ll likely experience rapid breathing or a shortness of breath. Slowing your heart rate by taking deeper and slower breaths can help calm your nerves in stressful situations like driving over a body of water via a bridge, which in turn can help you make more rational driving decisions and react more reasonably to other drivers’ actions.
Keep Your Seatbelt On
While many people instinctively take their seatbelts off when going over a bridge, that is not the answer to walking away from an emergency unscathed. In the case of a bridge with drivers on it collapsing, it is natural to think that having your seatbelt off means a quicker escape, but it can actually do you more harm than good. It is important to remember that before an escape, there is the actual scenario of the collapse and any debris that follows. Experts say that wearing a seatbelt over a bridge can be the difference between life and death. (This is one of the most important and little-known tips for driving safely over Florida bridges!)
Have The Right Tools In Case Of Emergency
If driving over Florida bridges is something that makes you particularly nervous, there are tools that can prepare you for emergencies. For example, if you are someone who usually does remove your seatbelt when crossing a bridge, you could instead purchase a seatbelt cutter and keep it in a close-by compartment. A seatbelt cutter is a safe and easy way to quickly remove your seatbelt in an emergency such as a bridge collapse. Again, this should be done after the impact of the fall as well as any debris that may come after. You can find them online for between $10-$15.
Another useful tool is the window/glass breaker. If your windows are up when an emergency occurs on a bridge, the window breaker allows you to break glass in the event that they won’t roll down or your doors won’t open if your vehicle is under water.
Speed limits aren’t just made for suggestion; especially on a bridge. Abiding by the speed limits when crossing a bridge plays a crucial role in keeping yourself and other drivers safe. Accelerating over a bridge can cause your car to spin out, or other drivers to waver. Keeping a steady speed while crossing can help you avoid collisions or other accidents. Speeding is also known to be tied to cause for anxiety, so avoiding unnecessary acceleration, especially over a bridge, can limit the possibility of panic attacks for yourself and others.
The #1 cause of vehicle accidents in America is distracted driving. While distracted driving can look different for everyone, we all are guilty of it at one point or another. When you limit distractions, you are far less likely to get into or cause an accident while driving. This is especially important when crossing a bridge because “escape routes,” aren’t available. Below are a few distractions that you should absolutely limit when crossing a bridge and driving in general.
- Radio – Avoid changing stations and turning the volume up. In fact, when you are approaching the bridge, you should turn the volume of your radio down. Researchers have found that when you’re focusing on something visual, the responsiveness of auditory nerves decreases. Meaning, your brain essentially turns down hearing to help limit distractions. That is why many people have the instinct to turn music down when they are trying to get somewhere new or concentrate on a driving task. By turning your radio down, you can improve your focus when driving over a bridge.
- Cell phone – Using a cellphone while driving is the cause of 1.6 million car accidents a year. Because our society has adapted well to the role technology plays in our lives, we are used to checking our phones constantly. In fact, the average driver spends 3.5 minutes on their cell phone per one hour trip. By staying off your cell phone, you can decrease the chances of causing or being involved in an accident while on a bridge.
Keep Both Hands On The Wheel
In 2016, it was found that over 40% of drivers drive with one hand, and around 25% drive with both hands, but in the wrong position. In Florida, high winds are possible for all drivers, but especially over bridges, which is why this tip makes our list of tips for driving safely over Florida bridges. Keeping both hands on the wheel will give you better control of your vehicle if the winds are strong or were to pick up abruptly.
What To Do If You Are Injured In An Accident On A Florida Bridge
If you are injured in a car accident on a Florida bridge due to another driver’s negligence despite following these safety tips, The Florida Law Group can help. Our firm has been servicing accident victims in Florida since 1984 and our attorneys have over 100+ years of combined experience. We are passionate about helping accident victims secure the compensation they deserve if things go wrong! Call today for a free confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.
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