City View Trolley Tours – Key West Florida

Okay, even a guy who writes about mob guys needs a break once in a while. So me and the wife took a four-day vacation to Key West, Florida for a little R&R before I go back to mob-busting again.

The quandary you face when going to Key West is what to see and how to see it. There are scores of attractions to see and great food to eat at dozens of restaurants. And every hotel, and even the Key West Express boat we took to Key West from Fort Myers, is pushing a Trolley Tour Bus that goes for 29 bucks for maybe an hour, or so, tour of downtown Key West.

So we decided not to decide on anything until we actually took a cab to downtown Key West from our Comfort Inn Hotel. Our cab driver Richie from Brooklyn (who moonlights as an excellent drummer for several Key West bands) dropped us off at stop number 5 on the City View Trolley Tour. We stepped up to the information counter and was greeted by a cheerful young lad named Marty. We asked Marty a few questions, which he answered effortlessly, and then Marty told us about the City View Trolley Tour.

The City View Trolley Tour makes eight stops in all, each stop having its own great tourist must-sees in the area. And get this: you can get off the bus as many times time you want, get on as many times as you want, see the sights, and a bus stops every 15 minutes at all eight stops to pick you up again and continue on the tour. And if you want to take the tour again that day, no problem. Just get on the bus again at any of the eight stops. The City View Trolley Tour costs only $19 a person, and if you come back the following day, it’s only 9 bucks a person.

The best part of the tour is the constant banter and boundless information the cheerful and always humorous bus driver regales you with over the bus loud speakers, as he tools around downtown Key West. It seems that every street on Key West has its own story, and even the cemetery is filled with fun-stuff information. Like the one tombstone that says, “I told you I was sick.” And another tombstone, where a weary wife put on her philandering husband’s tombstone, “At least I know where you’re sleeping tonight.”

In the course of the two days we took riding the City View Trolley Tour, we must have seen everything two or three times, but never told in the same manner, by one of the tour buses dozen or so drivers. Of course tips are permitted, and believe me even a buck or two is greatly appreciated, and much deserved.

In addition, Marty gave us several discount tickets for various attractions, and bars and restaurants, including 2 for 1drink coupons (he gave us four) for the Conch Republic Seafood Company, which has the best sea food this side of heaven.

One place you must see in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum ($12.50 per person). A nice lady gave us a grand tour of Hemingway’s house, and besides all the great tales of Ernie, you get to see 44 of Hemingway’s six-toed cats, which are all descendants of Hemingway’s original six-toed cats. (Actually, the genes for six toes are present in all the cats, but only about a half of them actually have six toes.)

Other grand tour must-sees are: Harry Truman’s Little White House, West Martello Tower, Southernmost Point (which is actually the Southernmost tip of the United States), all of Duval Street (which is like Key West’s Broadway), Clinton Square Market, Higgs Beach, Pat Croce’s Rum Barrell, Sloppy Joe’s Bar (Sloppy Joe Russell was Hemingway’s best friend in Key West), Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

So remember this folks, if you plan on visiting Key West for the first time, or maybe you’ve been there before but wanted to see more of the attractions, stop at the City View Trolley Tour. The main office and stop number one is located at 105 Whitehead Street, right across the street from the Clinton Square Customs House. Or see Marty at stop number 5, where you can also buy tour tickets, Stop 5 is located one block from the Southernmost Point near the end of Duval Street (upper Duval Street.

Top 5 Attractions in Miami, Florida

Miami is known mostly because of beach parties and disco music. At least that is the image of Miami presented to us in the media. But honestly you don’t think that you will spend your whole time on vacation there partying and lying on a beach, do you? It would be simply impossible, unless you would like to end up with a sunburn and an empty wallet. Therefore, read this list of top five attractions in Miami to know what else you can do there, and believe me, there is a lot more to do there.

5. Deep sea fishing with Jumanji. It may sound boring but believe me it’s not. It’s not boring because the fish you will be catching here are sharks, dolphins, and other big catches. This is definitely going to be a great fun for you and your family. Having a photo with a fish bigger than a kid will be a great addition to your family photo album.

4. Miami Bayside Market. It is an enormous shopping center, but do not let yourself be fooled by this label. Here, you can not only shop for clothes, accessories, etc., but you can also dine, relax, and listen to live music after dark. You can really spend your whole day here without getting bored.

3. Oleta River State Park. This is a place of choice for those of you who love active resting. Bike tracks, from basic to more challenging ones, canoes, kayaks, camp sites, all of this awaits you here. You can easily rent all the necessary equipment here so no need to drag your bike across the whole country. There is also a lot of activities provided for your children so don’t hesitate and take them with you.

2. Zoo Miami. This is definitely one of the biggest and most impressive zoos you will ever visit in your life, you can count on that. You can see here almost every animal species you can think of, including the ones that are endangered. Make sure you have a lot of free time when visiting the place, though.

1. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Now, this is the place where you can not only see interesting and beautiful things, but also learn something. History of mankind and nature awaits you here so grab your family and visit the place ASAP.

As you can see, there is more to Miami than just Malibu drinks and beaches. Another great thing about the city is that its Port Everglades shuttle service will take you to all of the attractions of the city so you may just leave these annoying buses and enjoy the city.

Orlando Attractions – Dos and Dont’s

When planning a trip to Orlando, it is always nice to have some inside knowledge from someone who has been before you and has picked up a few tips. It is easy to get carried away when planning it. Especially when the kids are brimming with excitement. Anyway, I hope you find this article useful.

Do.

Think carefully about what tickets you want to buy before you go. It is generally cheaper to buy them before you arrive in Orlando. Whether you live in the US or are from another country, bear in mind just how many days you are there. It is tempting to buy multi-day, multi-park tickets but if you are there for 14 days there is not much point getting a 14 day Ultimate Disney Pass (Only available in the UK), and then to get a 14 Day Two Park, Universal/Islands of Adventure ticket. Although sometimes it may be as cheap to get the 7 or 14 day ticket as they are practically the same price as a 2 park one day ticket. Which ever way you look at it, your park tickets will be an expensive item on your vacation checklist.

Don’t

be tempted to buy tickets from vendors in places such as restaurants, most of the time these are fake tickets or tickets that they have purchased from previous guests that have not used all of their days. Arrests have been made, quite regularly, of these sellers. Also Disney use a fingerprint system that ties one person to a particular ticket. Another thing, you only have the word of the vendor how many days are on the ticket. It is not worth the risk.

Do

get a water park ticket and if you only visit one of them, visit Typhoon Lagoon. It is a Caribbean style island that suffered the wrath of a typhoon that wreaked havoc on a once beautiful tropical oasis. Boats, fishing gear and surfboards were tossed about and still remain where the storm left them. The centerpiece of the park is “Miss Tilly,” a shrimp boat impaled on a mountain named “Mount Mayday”. The Mountain erupts a 50-foot geyser of water every half hour. There is a huge tidal wave pool, a lazy river and several water slides. I think Typhoon Lagoon is better than Blizzard Beach but they do have more water slides there.

Don’t

rush to buy Universal Studios Express Passes. They can cost as much as $48 per person if wanted for use on a Saturday and $10 less for other days of the week. It all depends on the time of year, I have been many times and most of the time I have found that there is very little difference between the “Express Line” and the “Normal” Standby line. One other thing to bear in mind, you can only use the pass once on each ride and some of the major ones, like the Harry Potter ride and “Hollywood, Rip Ride Rockit” doesn’t accept the pass anyway.

Do

Hire a car for your vacation. I know some don’t want to, especially those from other countries but it puts you at such a disadvantage not to have one. Public transport is not the best around the area and shuttle buses and cabs can be expensive and restricting. So take the plunge and get mobile.

Don’t

use the Disney complimentary buses, if you are staying in one of their resorts, it could take you almost an hour to get back to your hotel room, either take the car of if you can get home via the monorail, even better!

Do

Consider staying in an Orlando vacation home, especially if there are more than 4 in your group, it would make financial sense. There are literally thousands of villas available for rent, all privately owned and all within 20 minutes of Disney World. They also offer much more freedom, and privacy. All this and your own private swimming pool too!

All You Need To Know About Fort Lauderdale Airport

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is situated in Dania Beach 5km southwest of the centre of Fort Lauderdale and 8km from the nearest beaches. It is very near to Hollywood and 40km north of Miami. It is the fastest-growing major airport in the United States with its proximity to the cruise line terminals at Port Everglades making it popular for travelers to the Caribbean.

To get to Fort Lauderdale Airport which connects to the Florida Turnpike, I-95, I-595 and US Route 1, take the State Road 84 or the I-595 and turn onto SW 29 Avenue for the Park N Save car park, or follow US Route 1 south to the airport Perimeter Road for the economy car park.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has four terminals and a Rental Car Centre which has more than 5,400 rental cars. Most of the major car hire firms can be found there. On arrival at the airport you will be located on Level I at one of the four terminal buildings. Terminals 1 to 3 handle domestic flights and terminal 4 International. All of the terminals have an Information/Customer Service Desk and are relatively small, so there are no long walking distances to the baggage reclaims and arrivals halls.

Passengers arriving at Terminal 1 who are planning to hire a ca r should follow the signs to the Concourse B Pedestrian Bridge. All of the other terminals have a shuttle bus service on the baggage claim level that takes passengers to the Car Rental Centre.

Taxis are available outside the arrivals area and Yellow Cab taxis are available on demand 24 hours a day from the Transportation Podium located outside the baggage area on the lower level at the curb of each terminal. Rate comparison charts are posted at each podium and cabs may accept up to five people for the fare stated on the meter.

Shared shuttle vans which offer a door-to-door service from the airport to most local destinations, can also be booked at the transportation desks located in each of the terminals.

Buses and Tri-Rail (commuter train) feeder buses operate daily schedules from bus stops outside the terminal buildings at Fort Lauderdale Airport. The bus stops are located at the west end of the airport between Terminals 1 and 2 and between Terminals 3 and 4. There is no railway at the airport terminal, but a TriRail shuttle bus runs to the nearby station where trains leave Fort Lauderdale Airport Station heading South towards Miami at approximately 30 minute intervals Monday to Friday and every two hours at the weekend.

There is plenty of parking available adjacent to the terminal building at Fort Lauderdale Airport with parking for nearly 12,000 cars located just minutes from most terminals and reached via a covered walkway. There are also thousands of additional spaces in remote parking lots accessible by a free shuttle bus service.

Departures in all of the terminals are on level II with escalators and lifts (which are wheelchair friendly) to all floors. There is a wide range of restaurants to choose from at the airport, most of them are located after security and the ones prior to security are open to the public.

Shopping at the airport is fairly limited, but you can buy newspapers, magazines, books and gifts as well as duty free items including cameras, perfume and jewelry.

There are ATMs and a business centres with fax and photocopy facilities in every terminal at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Disabled facilities are good and passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.

School Bus Injuries – Not Just Wrecks

We would like to think of school buses as a safe means of transportation, taking our children to and from school and giving them a chance to talk to their friends. But buses, like all other kinds of transportation, have their risks. Many children have been injured in school buses. Some of these are serious enough that thousands of children are taken to emergency rooms around the country every year.

Many of these injuries are caused by traffic collisions. Given the number of children who take a given bus to school every day, a single collision could harm several children. A car moving at speed can be incredibly powerful, as anyone who has witnessed or experienced a wreck knows. Such collisions can cause anything from bruising and scrapes to broken bones, serious internal injuries, or death.

Collisions are not the only risk buses carry. Some studies of school bus injuries have only focused on injuries caused by collisions, but recent work including all sources of injury have found that, even though collision injuries are common and often severe, they’re only part of the picture.

Many bus-related injuries occur when children are boarding or leaving the bus, generally from slips and falls. Injuries can also result from the bus performing sudden stops or sharp turns. These can cause children to jostle around, possibly colliding with the bus, objects in it, or other children.

Some safety measures have been put in place to lessen the risks. Buses are ordinarily required to carry first aid kits and to have multiple emergency exit routes. Although many newer buses have seat belts, these are not an industry standard yet. Some schools or districts require buses on belts, but they are by no means the norm everywhere. Seat belts offer obvious benefits: they don’t just lessen the danger of collisions, they also prevent children from moving around as much during hard turns and sudden stops. Properly restraining children when they ride the bus could prevent many of these injuries.

If someone you love has been injured in a school bus-whether because of a collision or even just from sudden turns-consider seeking the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney knows the ins and outs of cases like yours and has the skills and knowledge to help. The Clearwater personal injury law offices of Tragos & Sartes, PL can help you recover from your tragic accident. Contact them today for a free consultation.

Medical Malpractice Causing Threat For The Civilization

Personal injuries occur every day, in a wide range of situations, from vehicle accidents to injuries sustained playing sports, to a simple tripping in the street. These injuries can be upsetting and expensive, involving costs such as hospital and doctors fees, but more importantly they often involve a compromising of the patient’s usual quality of life. This important factor is taken into consideration when making personal injury settlements with the help of Florida Attorneys, helping you to bear any costs you might encounter in getting back to normal. The main causes for which the personal injuries may happen are:-

Vehicle accidents –

One of the most common cause of injuries which happens as an outcome of a vehicle mishap; includes cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, boats among others. These accidents attribute to the affliction of the drivers, passengers and even pedestrians. In the state of Florida the Florida Accident lawyers have the full expertise to precede with the litigation of accidents related injuries.

Slip and fall –

These instances may greatly happen in establishments such as malls, offices, schools and even hospitals to name some.

Medical malpractice –

Medical practitioners such as physicians, dentists, nurses, midwives and other individuals who bestow us medical attention have the responsibility of ensuring our health. But due to some neglectful acts, they tend to detach from the accepted standards of performing their jobs. As a result, their patient’s health conditions even worsen or sometimes even cause fatalities.

When faced with a problem that you think it needs legal attention, you may wish to consult with a Florida Malpractice lawyer about the legal rights and responsibilities as soon as possible. Many states of US along with Florida have deadlines for filing lawsuits especially for personal injuries. These so called “statute of limitations” laws are designed to encourage people to promptly come forward and present their case.

It is best to contact an injury lawyer as soon after the occurrence of the accident or negligence as possible – this will help protect the rights, and get moving quickly on establishing what exactly your rights and entitlements are. Like any area of the law, personal injury can be confusing to the lay person, so it is best to contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer before you proceed any further with the matter, so that you can fully understand the best course of action. There are also some time constraints involved in certain personal injury situations, so time is of the essence.

As the majority of injury-causing accidents are linked to negligence, it is much necessary to exercise our daily activities with much care and cautiousness to keep away from injuries which may cause us a great deal of suffering and hardships.

Outbound Border Security

U.S. Customs and Border Protection takes seriously its mission of “protecting America from all threats.” You might think we have enough threats from abroad to keep our border agents quite busy, but that is not always the case.

In January of 2011, CBP boarded a cruise ship, the MSC Poesia, while it was docked at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.(1) The ship was about to embark on its Jam Cruise, a music-themed tour of the western Caribbean. Perhaps not surprisingly, some cruise-goers apparently planned to have high times while on the high seas. Agents seized small quantities of marijuana, LSD, mushrooms, hash oil, Ecstasy, prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia. The customs agents and K-9 officers were joined in the bust by officials from the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

Customs agents have the authority to conduct patrols at ports of entry to prevent dangerous or illegal objects from being brought into the country. But the MSC Poesia was leaving the country, not arriving. The passengers’ possession of drugs in the U.S. was a crime, but not a crime customs agents are charged with preventing. Why were customs and border patrol agents involved in the raid?

The answer might simply be that they were the folks who brought the dogs. In United States v. Place and Illinois v. Caballes, the Supreme Court found that the sniff of a police dog does not constitute a “search” because it does not reveal any information about which a person can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the dog alerts its trainers to the possible presence of drugs, the non-canine officers have probable cause to investigate further.

Pay attention to the fact that a CBP spokeswoman did not say how many people were arrested, nor would she give their names. That information would let us follow up the real results of the raid. This looks like an exercise whose purpose was publicity, not law enforcement. While the searches may have been defensible under the Supreme Court’s rulings, I imagine a good criminal lawyer would make quick work of a prosecutor’s case for failing to prove who packed a suitcase, or whether the drugs might have been introduced at the dock or afterward by someone other than the owner. But this would only happen if there were really a prosecution, which is unlikely given the penny-ante results the raids produced.

Is this what we want the Customs and Border Patrol to be doing these days?

We have already seen border agents run roughshod over civil rights – namely the right to travel within U.S. borders in peace – along the Canadian border. Using their authorization to interrogate anyone within a “reasonable distance” of a border regarding immigration status, CBP agents regularly question individuals on buses and trains between U.S. cities.(2) The Lake Shore Limited Amtrak train, which runs between Chicago and New York without ever passing through Canada, is a particular favorite haunt for roving border patrols.

I’m inclined to believe that Americans smoking pot in America doesn’t pose much of a threat to the country, but it’s even more obvious that Americans smoking pot in Honduras or Mexico, the MSC Poesia’s two destinations, poses no threat at all. The Hondurans or the Mexicans might want to stop those drugs from entering their countries. In that case, they can conduct their own searches when passengers disembark.

The potential harm caused by the pre-departure search, on the other hand, is clearly evident. The cruise ship industry is an important part of the Florida economy. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, from fall through spring, at least half a dozen gigantic cruise liners pull into Port Everglades before sunrise and disgorge their passengers, while others arrive in Miami, West Palm Beach and elsewhere around the state. They usually reload and depart on their next cruise just before sunset. Fewer ships call at the port on weekdays and in the summer, but there is still a significant amount of activity.

This keeps a lot of people employed. There are people who work on the ships themselves, people who drive passengers to and from the docks, people who sell food and other goods to passengers during their stopovers, and many others who directly or indirectly depend on the cruise industry for their livelihoods.

While I don’t have any great desire to embark on a cruise myself, I know I’d be even less likely to want to hop on board if doing so meant having my possessions scrutinized by federal agents who are on fishing expeditions. I imagine that others who are more interested in cruises are probably equally uninterested in having their bags examined.

The cruise industry is focused on fostering an environment of hospitality and relaxation. Drug-sniffing dogs don’t create quite the same ambiance as, say, complimentary piña coladas might.

CBP agents have a vital and occasionally dangerous job protecting our borders, yet somehow this is not enough to keep the agency from looking for other things to do. These extracurricular adventures have unpleasant police-state overtones. Someone needs to bring the border patrol, along with its dogs, to heel.

Personal Advertising

We may not be fully aware of it, but advertising has crept into the American psyche. For example, we used to name sports stadiums after prominent citizens and Presidents, now they are named after the highest bidder, usually a company involved with financial management, energy, or telecommunications. It wasn’t good enough for them to just have the largest billboard in the park, but instead companies found it necessary to hijack the name and turn it into a trademark.

We also see advertising on the roadways, not just billboards and buses, but on our own vehicles as well. It’s not uncommon to see cars and pickup trucks sporting advertisements describing a person’s business. such as a realtor, plumber, electrician, pool supplies, etc. I actually don’t have a problem with this; people are simply trying to promote their businesses on a rolling billboard. What I have a problem with, and I am mystified when I see it, is when people with no connection to companies place ads, decals or bumper stickers on their cars to promote a business. For example, “Follow Me to ABC Company who offers the best deals on this or that.” I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of this. I particularly chuckle when I see fans of professional sports decorate their cars with stickers and signs promoting their favorite team. Not only did they have to pay to see their team play, but they have to pay to promote them. No wonder these athletes are millionaires, they soak the little guy for every nickel he has.

We also see a lot of advertising on our clothes, including shoes, shirts, jackets, and hats. It’s rare to find a plain white shirt anymore or some article of clothing that doesn’t have some sort of corporate logo on it. Not only have our cars become rolling billboards, but we have become walking ones. To take it even further, I find it amazing when I see someone who tattoos a corporate logo on themselves. Talk about taking advertising to the sublime!

Frankly, I think we’ve got it all backwards. If companies really want us to advertise their products and services, they should pay for our clothes and automobiles, not the other way around. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem driving a Budweiser automobile while wearing Warner Brothers shoes, a Cialis shirt and an NBC baseball cap, as long as I don’t have to pay for them. But for me to pay for such things, forget it!

Disney World in Winter: 10 Wonderful Reasons to Visit the Walt Disney World Resort This Winter

Are you looking for that perfect getaway this winter? Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida may just be your ticket. Here are my top 10 “hot tips” for warming up with Mickey this winter.

1. Value Season Rates. Keep your wallet warm with rock-bottom prices at Disney resort hotels from early January through mid-February, which is also a period of lower attendance (and fewer crowds).

2. Year of a Million Dreams Celebration. Come celebrate latest hoopla, see new attractions like “Finding Nemo–The Musical” and Laugh Floor Comedy Club, and maybe even win one of the million “dreams” that Disney is awarding.

3. Golf! Enjoy Walt Disney World’s 99 holes of championship golf. Greens fees include transportation to and from your Disney resort. Or try your hand at miniature golf at Disney’s Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens, each with two 18-hole courses.

4. Disney’s free, on-site transportation. Once you’ve checked into your Disney resort (or campsite), buses, boats and monorails can take you anywhere you want to go on Disney property.

5. The kids (and grandkids). Few places better than Walt Disney World for family togetherness and warm smiles.

6. Annual Pass and AAA Discounts. These hot, money-saving deals are more widely available in this year of decreased travel, even for Peak Season vacationers.

7. Winter cruise discounts. This is usually a great time to sail — prices are lower and the risk of bad weather is minimal. Why not add a tropical Disney cruise onto your winter Disney vacation?

8. Gas. Prices are gradually coming down.

9. Disney’s own Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. One of America’s top-rated campgrounds is just across the water from Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Location, location, location.

10. It just feels great! Few destinations are cleaner, friendlier, or safer than Walt Disney World. Be prepared to leave your frown (and worries) at the door.

Copyright © Jennifer Marx/PassPorter Travel Press – All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your web site and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links, and the resource box are unchanged.

An In-Depth Look at Smoke on Florida Highways

Smoke that limits visibility on Florida roads is an ongoing and extremely dangerous problem. It causes numerous auto accident injuries, and, in some cases, deaths. This smoke is even more dangerous on high-speed, limited-access highways such as I-10, I-75 and I-95. It is also more dangerous at night and in Florida’s cooler months, when low-lying fog is common.

Multiple Causes

Forest and brush fires are natural occurrences, especially in Florida, a state that has the most lightning strikes. However, fires have other causes that can be avoided.

Sometimes, intentional wrongdoing, arson, causes fires and, sometimes, they are caused by carelessness. Negligence in burning trash and other fire-related activities by campers or homeowners are examples of causes that can easily be avoided. Faulty equipment or carelessness with construction, logging, and railroad equipment can cause these fires, so can traffic accidents themselves.

Prescribed or “controlled” burns relate to the management of Florida’s forests. Recently, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture noted a significant reduction in prescribed burns in 2012 because of drought conditions. The Florida Forest Service devised a plan to address future use of prescribed burns that carefully balances against Florida’s growth and urbanization. It is important that those who use these fires take great care to do it right.

Accountability

For auto accident personal injury victims of crashes caused by smoke that reduces or nearly eliminates visibility, those who suffer personal injury and the families of those who suffer death in such tragic accidents, rules vary based on circumstances and facts. Wanting to determine fault and bring accountability to wrongdoers is normal, so much so that it is enshrined in the Florida Constitution as a basic right: “SECTION 21. Access to courts – the courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.”

Actions of Drivers

No matter who, if anyone, is responsible for the smoke on a highway, the actions of the drivers involved in these wrecks will be closely examined. This will bring into play the obligation of vehicle operators, whether passenger vehicles or tractor-trailer rigs, buses or heavy equipment, to drive with reasonable care under the circumstances. It will be examined and complicated by the following questions:

What is the safe thing to do in a cloud of smoke?
Was there a safe way to pull off the highway?
How could the drivers even know where such a safe place was?

Each driver is responsible to drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions, but many drivers may worry about slowing down and being hit from behind by vehicles that do not slow down. Investigators consider all these factors. Unfortunately, in the worst of these accidents, drivers and passengers may have died or been injured too badly to help reconstruct the accident.

Pre-Accident Condition of Drivers

Another factor investigators always look at is the pre-accident condition of each driver. This includes whether any drivers involved were impaired by alcohol or drugs, or distracted by cell phones or other devices.

For professional drivers especially, pre-accident condition examines the operator’s driving history. If the driving record is poor, investigators will then look at whether the trucking company was or should have been aware of that driving record, and whether the company took reasonable precautions to protect the public from poor drivers. Training, supervision and licensing are investigated, in addition to the amount of hours driven by truck drivers and the accuracy of driver logs. Trucking companies and their drivers are governed by strict rules with the intent of safety and saving lives. It is necessary for drivers to be alert and capable of making the right driving decisions when operating such large vehicles to avoid trucking accident injuries.

Responsibility for Smoke on the Highway

Who is responsible for the presence of smoke on a highway? Lightning provides its own answer when it is the initial cause. However, there are times and circumstances when carelessness in working with fire, or failure to take precautions as to when and under what weather and wind conditions to set “controlled” burns, can add up to negligence and bring liability. After all, without the smoke, the accident likely would not have occurred. In a case of a controlled burn alleged to have caused a tractor-trailer to crash into a small car killing people, the appeals court for the North Florida area held the company responsible for the fire that put smoke on the highway at 9:30 at night was held potentially liable for losses even by the truck driver who himself was uninjured but lost his job after the accident. Waters v. ITT-Rayonier, Inc., 493 So.2d 67 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986). Negligence in fire fighting, especially when that work is done by government, raises questions of whether sovereign immunity has been waived by statute and whether there are any exceptions to that waiver that might defeat the ability to assess liability against the government. That issue has been addressed elsewhere. Myers v. McGrady, 628 S.E.2d 761 (N.C. 2006) (multi-vehicle collision at night in smoke and fog on I-95).

Vehicles on a Smoky Highway

Another issue emerges and is addressed in part by a newly released Florida Department of Law Enforcement report. This report analyzes the role of the Florida Highway Patrol in the closing of I-75 due to smoke from a fire on Paynes Prairie near Gainesville, Florida in January 2012 and then reopening I-75 with subsequent major collisions with numerous deaths and injuries. Document-FDLE-I-75-Incident-Review

While much of the investigation is yet to be done, the report points to factual issues that open the question of potential liability by the State of Florida. The State has, by statute, waived its sovereign immunity for liability for its negligence, but that waiver is subject to rules that give leeway to state entities in taking actions in dealing with many issues, including public safety. Questions will arise about whether negligence was involved in the decision to reopen I-75 to traffic the night of this tragic accident. Investigators will also examine whether there were warnings about the potential for smoke resettling on the highway and blinding drivers, and, if so, whether the warnings were adequate, and whether FHP patrol cars could have done more to warn and control the vehicles traveling on the reopened interstate.

The Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Forest Service and the Florida Department of Transportation adopted a uniform set of warning signs to be used for smoke on Florida roads, including signs for use at times of prescribed burns. The State’s waiver of sovereign immunity also contains limitations on the amount that can be recovered for wrongful death and serious injuries, although recoveries exceeding the caps can be made through legislative claims bills. Section 768.28, Florida Statutes.

Conclusion

Smoke on Florida’s highways will continue to be a problem. The first thing we can do is be careful to prevent fires from starting or, if using prescribed or controlled burns for the management of underbrush and forests, taking every reasonable step to protect the public from the danger of smoke on the highways. There is no room for shortcuts; lives are at stake. Proper planning, training and diligence by responsible parties are vital.