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Fog, Smoke Can Trigger Car Accidents in Port St. Lucie, Elsewhere

An 11th victim has been discovered after two massive pile-ups on I-75 late last month that are being attributed to heavy morning fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire.

The Associated Press is reporting it took recovery crews two days to find the deceased man, who was trapped in his truck following the the deadly Florida car accident.

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Our Port St. Lucie car accident attorneys have since learned that investigators are employing the help of anthropologists to identify the victims of the fiery crashes, which burned with such intensity that it melted glass and metal.

According to news reports, the man’s pick-up was crushed between other vehicles.

Originally, officials with the Florida Highway Patrol had shut down the six-lane interstate due to smoke and fog conditions originating from a 62-acre brush fire that was burning nearby. The road was re-opened, and that’s when the first traffic crash happened.

There, more than 12 cars, six tractor trailers and a motorhome all smashed into each other. Some cars caught fire. Others were trapped underneath large semi-trucks.

In addition to those who were killed, 18 people were rushed to the emergency room with injuries.

Visibility was so impacted, rescue workers had to fight their way to the fog, smoke and fire toward the screams.

Officials are planning to analyze the protocol used to determine it would be acceptable to re-open the roadway, and decide whether improvements need to be made for the future.

Currently, a supervisor with the highway patrol makes the call, but he or she relies on the assessment of troopers on the ground. They also incorporate data from the National Weather Service.

Dry conditions throughout the state during the winter months make Florida prime for brush fires, according to the Florida Forest Service. Although a natural part of the state’s ecological health, brush fires can quickly turn deadly for motorists seeking to navigate through the thick smoke.

Combined with fog, which is essentially a cloud resting on the ground, it can create an extremely hazardous condition for drivers.

The state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued the following advice for Florida drivers who encounter fog and smoke:

1. Use your low beam lights. Your brights will be reflected back in heavy smoke or fog conditions, and will only reduce your ability to see even more. Low lights, however, will help other drivers to see you. Make sure also that your headlights and windshields are clear of debris and dirt, which could make it even tougher for you to see.

2. Drive slowly. Make certain you’ll be able to stop in the distance you can see ahead of you. Sometimes, fog and smoke create an illusion of slow motion, when you might in fact be traveling fast. Speed is often a factor in fog and smoke-related crashes.

3. Be on the lookout for slow-moving or parked vehicles. Turn off your radio, put down your cell phone and roll down your window so you can listen for other vehicles you might not be able to see.

4. Defrosters and wipers can be used to help you see better as well if the moisture is building up on your windshield.

5. Drive along the right edge of the road, where you can allow the road markings to guide you.

6. Make sure to use your turn signal well before you turn and brake early before you stop.

7. If you’re on a highway, don’t stop, as that could cause a serious accident. If you need to pull off the road, use your turn signal, and then gradually, carefully pull as far off the road as you can. Then turn on your hazards and step away from your vehicle and away from the highway.

8. Be patient. These conditions are not the time to drive aggressively or speed.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident in Port St. Lucie, Pompano Beach or in any of the surrounding areas, contact our personal injury lawyers of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-529-2368.

Additional Resources:

Driving in Fog, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Highway Patrol: 11th victim found inside burned pickup truck days after deadly I-75 pileup, The Associated Press

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