Although the cause of the crash, which occurred on State Road 70, just east of Arcadia, is still under investigation, officials have said the pickup truck driven by the boy’s mother was hydroplaning across the highway when it rotated and crossed the center line, slamming head-on into the vehicle carrying the three sisters and their friend. One of the sisters, who was driving, tried to avoid a crash by steering into the grass shoulder, but the truck still struck the back of her vehicle.
The sisters and their friend had been returning from a faith convention in Fort Pierce to their home in St. Petersburg. Their father, a pastor, and their mother had attended the same convention, but were returning home separately.
The child was transported to a local hospital in critical condition, though he is expected to survive.
Authorities say it’s not clear exactly why his mother lost control of the pickup, though they do know alcohol was not a likely factor and the roads were slick with rainwater. It’s not yet clear whether it was actually raining at the time of the crash, or whether the road was simply wet from an earlier rain.
Florida is no stranger to tropical downpours, and our Orlando traffic accident attorneys know this can result in treacherous conditions for drivers.
Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle tire encounters more water than it can scatter. It’s essentially the skidding or sliding of vehicle tires on a wet surface.
The best way to handle hydroplaning is to try to avoid it in the first place. This involves firstly making sure your tire tread is good. A tread of more than 5/32nds of an inch is ideal.
Secondly, you will need to try to avoid puddles, drive slowly and brake gently in wet weather. This is especially important in the first few minutes of rainfall. That’s because when the ran first starts to fall, it stirs up the oil and other substances that have dried on the road. This forms a film that actually makes the road especially slippery. Keep an eye out too for other drivers who may be skidding.
Bear in mind it’s more difficult for your car to maintain traction when the road is wet, so you must slow down. In some cases, that’s going to mean traveling slower than the speed limit. You’ll want to keep the pace with traffic, but if that’s going to fast for your comfort, pull over until the rain subsides. And when you proceed, do so with caution.
This is especially key if you observe standing water. Avoid these areas as best you can. Puddles tend to form along the sides of the road, so keep to the center if you can.
Also, make sure your windshield wipers are in proper order because if not, those standing puddles are going to be tougher to see when it’s pouring down rain. Be sure too to turn your cruise control off. This will help if you need to quickly adjust your speed.
If you do begin to hydroplane, the first thing you have to do is stay calm. This is tough, because the entire episode can easily induce panic. But you must maintain your concentration, wait for the skid to stop and stay alert so you can regain control of the car. Don’t slam your brakes or yank the steering wheel because that will only extend the amount of time before you can regain control. Usually, a skid only lasts a few seconds, and if you keep calm during that time, you should be able to quickly seize control of the vehicle. Ease your foot off the gas (or brake if you were braking at the time) and steer in the direction you want to go, maintaining a firm grip on the wheel. Be careful not to steer too sharply.
Unfortunately, many people fail to follow this advice in the heat of the moment, and as the case out of Arcadia shows, the results can be devastating.
If you are struck by a vehicle that has hydroplaned, you may be entitled to compensation for property damage and injuries. We can help.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
5 dead in two-car crash on Florida Road, Aug. 10, 2015, By Kate Irby, Bradenton Herald
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