What to do when involved in an auto accident on a Tampa Bay Bridge
A large portion of Tampa Bay’s area is made up of water, so there is inherently an abundance of bridges in this region; the four longest bridges total over 15 miles. While Driving over them is beautiful it can also create a driving environment that is more prone to crashes due to the unavoidable narrow design. Hillsborough County officials state speeding is a major cause of car accidents, and the longer bridges allow for unsafe speeds. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in 2015 almost 300 accidents involved a bridge structure, not including accidents with other vehicles on bridges. In 2015, there were over 19,000 accidents on interstate highways, which includes accidents on the Howard Frankland bridge (I-275).
An accident that may be avoided on a regular road is many times unavoidable on a bridge due to the space constraints of the bridge. It is especially important to drive defensively on bridges. Use your brakes to alert vehicles behind you, when the car ahead of you uses their brakes, maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you and drive on the right while cars pass on the left. Obviously, all distractions should be avoided, such as text messaging and web browsing, while driving as distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents.
Defensive driving will reduce your chances of getting into an accident; however, sometimes there is no way to avoid the accident. If this happens on a Tampa Bay bridge, it is important to turn on your hazard lights, move your car onto an emergency lane, if a lane is available and your car is operational; stay in your car if there is no immediate danger. Call the police, and do not exit the vehicle until the emergency responders clear a safe area and give you the “green light”. If you are able to take pictures from inside your car of the other vehicle(s) and the accident scene while waiting for the emergency responders, do so.
While you wait for the emergency responders to arrive, it’s important to know your car is in the safest place to be, as exiting the vehicle on a bridge will make you vulnerable to another accident. Once it is safe to exit the vehicle, take pictures of the accident, this includes, pictures of your vehicle, any other vehicles involved, the roadway itself and any individuals involved in the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s). Be careful of any statements you make at the accident scene as those statements can be used by the other driver and their insurance company later on in the case. Make note of any statements made by the other driver. Make note of any passengers in the vehicles and where everyone was sitting. Make note if you are able to tell if the other driver was distracting by anything such as using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Call your lawyer before providing the insurance agency with a statement. You can and should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. However, ask them to allow you to call them back for any recorded statement they may want to take. If you have had a recent automobile accident on a Tampa Bay bridge, feel free to call Franco Law at (813) 873-0180 for a free no-obligation consultation regarding your legal rights.
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