The Three Biggest Driving Challenges After Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma might be gone, but the destruction of this powerful storm continues to linger in Florida. Along with the frustration of power outages and long lines for gasoline, water, and canned food, you might notice dangerous changes on the roads. Here are three common post-hurricane driving dangers, and how to deal with them.

Traffic Lights

After Hurricane Irma, nearly 300 traffic lights were out in Pinellas County. At busy intersections, this can be a major issue! What are you supposed to do when a light is out?

When a traffic light is out, all drivers should treat the intersection as a four-way stop. All drivers should come to a complete stop at the light, like they would for a red light or stop sign. They should then proceed with caution, only move forward if traffic permits, and give the right-of-way to other vehicles that entered the intersection first.

Oftentimes, a police office will be there to direct traffic when a light is out. Obey all their signals, and look out for any officers and their vehicles as you proceed. And remember to give them a friendly wave to thank them for keeping the roads safe!

When a traffic light is out, use even more caution than you normally would. Other drivers might not realize that the light is out, or not know who to do in this situation. If another driver is speeding, texting, or intoxicated, they might ignore or not see the upcoming obstacle. While you can’t always prevent the reckless decisions of others, you can stay alert so that you can avoid a collision with a dangerous driver.

Debris in Roads

If you saw the strong winds of Hurricane Irma, it’s understandable that lots of debris ended up in the roads! From broken tree limbs to blown-away garbage from dumpsters, the roads are littered with debris. Thanks to hardworking cleanup crews, most major obstructions, like downed trees, have been safely removed. But in the coming days and weeks, it’s likely that you’ll continue to encounter lots of branches, leaves, and other small bits of debris.

Debris might not seem that dangerous. However, debris contributed to 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014, according to AAA. Thankfully, many debris-related accidents are easily prevented.

Stay focused on the road in front of you, always looking about 12 to 15 seconds ahead for any debris. If you come across a bit of debris suddenly, don’t swerve out of the way, as this could cause you to lose control of your car. If you need to make contact with a piece of debris, reduce you speed as much as possible.


Since Florida is home to so many waterways, flooding can become an issue at any time. However, our state is particularly vulnerable to flooding during hurricane season. From 1978 to 2002, flooding in Florida resulted in a loss of $1,479,585,525, and dozens of people lost their lives as a result of drowning, electrocution, or structural collapse.

If you have to drive through any heavy water, be careful. There is no guarantee that the road still exists under the water, or that the roadbed isn’t damaged. So if a sign says to turn around, obey it! Avoid driving in water near downed electrical or power lines. Electrical currents can easily pass through the water, and contact may cause electrocution.

Most importantly, if you cannot see the bottom of the flooded section, do not try to cross. The water may be deeper than it seems, and only a few feet of water, if moving swiftly enough, can carry away a person or vehicle. Drive slowly and cautiously through the water.

Be Safe!

We got through Hurricane Irma, and with caution, we can get through the aftermath! Stays safe out there!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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