All too frequently we learn of deaths and injuries on I75 involving careless, illegal uturns through the median. As recently as May 19, 2014, several children were severely injured on I75 near Ocala, Florida, when a young Florida Highway Patrol officer made a sudden, unexpected uturn through the median when he was driving north on I75. Although law enforcement officials have the authority to make a u-turn on the Interstate, this tragic accident highlights the high risk of performing such a maneuver on the interstate. Tragically, instead of completing the uturn successfully, the 20 year old FHP Trooper struck a guard rail and then hit the front of a 2014 Nissan Altima, carrying several children ages 3, 5, and 7. The 2014 Altima then hit two other southbound cars including a 2011 Mercedes, as well as a tractor trailer. Unfortunately, this chain reaction injured three children who had to be lifeflighted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
Making a sudden uturn on I75, often results in tragic consequences. In addition to being illegal under Florida Statute 316.515 and 316.090, u-turns on an interstate highway are extremely dangerous, because of the high speed involved in the approaching traffic. Generally, all drivers are familiar and comfortable with making an occasional uturn in local traffic. Making a legal uturn within city limits, generally can be accomplished successfully, especially because the oncoming traffic is generally approaching at perhaps 25 to 45 MPH. Unfortunately, on the Interstate Highway system, the driver attempting a uturn through a median is facing approaching traffic at 70 to 80 MPH, or possibly more, which gives an extremely short window of opportunity to complete the u-turn.
In the recent I75 uturn incident, the FHP officer probably misjudged the distance and timing on his uturn through the median, and hit the guard rail causing a massive chain reaction, injuring several people. Even though the FHP Trooper is legally authorized to complete a u-turn through the median, the general public should take an important lesson from this incident, and remember to merely exit the interstate at the next exit and change directions of travel, rather than attempting an illegal uturn through the median.
This safety reminder is brought to you by the car accident/personal injury law firm of Steven A. Bagen & Associates. Our firm has been dedicated to "Helping Florida’s Injured" for over thirty years. If we can assist with any traffic incident or personal injury case, we can easily be reached at 1-800-800-2575, or at www.BagenLaw.com.