Every year, an influx of people enters Florida to escape cold weather in their home states. In Clearwater and throughout the Tampa Bay area, we call them “snowbirds.”
While flocking south, these seasonal guests patronize local shops and restaurants, giving our local economy a boost. Unfortunately, they also increase traffic, and contribute to a yearly spike in auto accidents in the Sunshine State.
From October to April, traffic in the Tampa Bay area is especially unpleasant. Many snowbirds are over 70 years old and present significant risks behind the wheel.
When elderly drivers congregate in one area, accidents are more likely to occur.
Why Are Snowbirds Dangerous Drivers?
- Lack of familiarity with the area – Snowbirds only live in Florida for about 6 months every year. If they become lost, they may get distracted by cellphones and GPS devices.
- Difficulty estimating distance – As eyesight fades in older individuals, so does their ability to drive safely. If someone is unable to judge distance, they may pull out into traffic and cause an accident.
- Poor eyesight – In general, problems with vision make driving unsafe. If a snowbird cannot read a stop sign, for example, they may enter the intersection at an inappropriate time, or fail to see a child on the roadway.
- Forgetfulness – Older drivers can forget the rules of the road, forget to signal and check their blind spot, or forget to yield the right of way. This is especially dangerous when pedestrians, bikers, or cyclists are on the road.
- Slow reaction time – Driving under the speed limit can contribute to a crash, as can taking too long to respond to a potential hazard.
- Serious medical conditions – If an elderly driver has dementia, they may be driving around aimlessly, even if it is unsafe to do so. Older drivers are also at risk of having a stroke or heart attack behind the wheel and losing control of their vehicle.
Steer Clear of Snowbirds
To keep yourself safe, pay special attention to your driving during winter months. Be sure to:
- Always obey traffic laws
- Stay alert
- Keep an eye out for distracted or otherwise dangerous drivers
- Limit distractions in your own vehicle
- Be kind and courteous
If a snowbird cuts you off and you’re paying close attention, you may be able to prevent an accident.
In the event that an elderly driver plows into your vehicle, however, there’s not much you can do besides keep a level head and get evaluated for injuries.
If you are harmed in an accident with a snowbird, contact The Fran Haasch Law Group for assistance.
We are available 24/7 at (727) 784-8191 and offer free case evaluations. Get in touch today!