Opinion: Learn how to drive or get off the road
Floridians joke that they can easily "Gangnam Style" through hurricanes. But when it comes to driving in the Sunshine State's daily summer thunderstorms, many don't seem to have a clue.
How many times have you been driving down Alafaya Trail or the 408 in the rain and the car in front of you has its hazard lights flashing? For me, it's too many to count.
I could be wrong, but I doubt any of these people are driving their pregnant wives to the hospital, are dodging a bee that snuck into the car or are having any other sort of emergency that would require them to turn on their hazard lights.
In fact, according to Florida law, it is illegal for motorists to use their hazard lights while in motion, unless the vehicle in question is being used in a funeral procession. Hazard lights are meant to be used by stopped vehicles in emergency situations in order for first responders to easily locate those vehicles.
Additionally, law-enforcement officials say using hazard lights while driving can do more harm than good. It's easier for other drivers to mistake hazards for brake-tapping or turn signals.
So, if it's illegal, why do so many Floridians use their hazards in the rain? Because they don't know how to drive, as it is.
I'm sure you know at least one person who is afraid to drive in the rain, on the highway, with the radio on or something along those lines. While it's important to be aware of the great power and danger that comes with getting behind the wheel of a car, driving like a scared guppy isn't a good idea.
Florida Highway Patrol officials say that if weather conditions are bad enough to impair your vision, you should pull over and wait it out. Obviously, this isn't always feasible if you're trying to get to work or school on time.
Another thing to question, however, is why these drivers are not getting penalized for breaking the law. The answer? Pulling over and ticketing a driver in the rain — a ticket that costs about $115 — would cause the driver and officer to get "soaked," an FHP officer told the Sun Sentinel.
That reasoning is alarming: Police officers are allowing wrongdoings to continue because they don't want to get wet. Drivers who break the law, whether that law involves speeding or flashing hazards inappropriately, should be ticketed.
But aside from better law enforcement, I say we need to do a better job of educating our drivers in Florida.
When I took my driving test at 16, all I had to do was make a couple of turns, park and back up a few feet. Boom. License received. How about testing skills such as driving in the rain, wind or fog?
Many driving courses teach their drivers to eliminate all distractions while driving. Well, that's not always going to be possible. You're not always going to be driving by yourself with the radio off down a smooth road under a rainbow.
In a place such as Florida, where it rains every day in summertime, you'd think driving in the rain would be a no-brainer. Well, that must be true, because everyone seems to be driving with no brain.