Driving Safely When There
is Low Visibility From Wildfires

Driving Safely When There is Low Visibility From Wildfires

When California wildfires are raging, our beautiful landscape is transformed into a life-threatening situation. The sky goes dark, the air is hard to breathe, and some Californians lose their homes to the flames.

During the wildfires of summer 2020, Northern California gained the unfortunate honor of having the world’s worst air quality. Locals have faced the terrifying choice between staying in their homes or hopping in their cars and leaving the area - all during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you headed out onto the roads? Here are some important things to keep in mind about staying safe while driving during California wildfires.

Tips for Driving Near Wildfires

Firefighters who manage wildfires advise that there are certain things to do and not do around an actively-burning and expanding wildfire.

When you are in your home or in a building:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to leave an area with an active wildfire.
  • Pack up quickly to leave, gathering essentials like medicine and water.
  • Try to spot areas with smoke in the distance and leave well before the flames approach.

If you must drive near a wildfire:

  • Roll up the car’s windows.
  • Close the car’s vents and turn off the A/C to limit the inhalation of toxic fumes.
  • Turn on your headlights and hazard lights, even during the day.
  • Remain inside the car and keep it running.
  • Make sure all passengers stay in the vehicle until you’re out of the fire zone.

In terms of driving safely, drive at or below the speed limit and don’t try to outrun the fire by driving too fast. Speeding reduces your reaction time and could cause you to have a crash in an already-risky situation.

Use your headlights to help illuminate the road and activate your hazard lights to warn others that you may be traveling slowly. Try to avoid driving directly through heavy smoke where visibility is limited. Look for alternate routes that allow safe passage and good visibility.

Don’t spend precious time taking photos of the blaze and posting about it on social media. In fact, don’t exit the car at all until you’re in a safe place away from the fire. Your priority should be getting yourself and your family to safety.

What if I’m in an Accident Near a Wildfire?

In the summer of 2020, some California residents have faced the double-whammy of pandemic shutdowns and wildfire shutdowns. Many schools, daycares, workplaces, and even health facilities are being forced to temporarily close.

This means people are scrambling to pack up their lives and make new plans at the last minute. Whether you stay in the area or decide to leave your home, get ready for a stressful situation that may involve driving in less-than-ideal conditions.

If you’re in a car accident near a California wildfire, act quickly to follow California law while keeping your family safe. You are required to remain at the scene of an accident with injuries or property damage, or you could be charged with a hit and run. Call 911 for emergency assistance.

After an accident, notify the authorities, gather the other person’s contact information, get your loved ones to safety, and contact Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers to talk about any severe injuries you or your family members have. Get high-quality medical care and save all related documentation.

Before you sign any papers or make any statements to an insurance company, speak to your lawyer first. Don’t be too eager to settle fast or it could harm your claim and prevent you from collecting future damages.

Stay Safe and Seek Help During California Wildfires

At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we understand that California wildfires bring extra danger and worry to your life. We hope you stay safe and healthy during these trying times, and if you need us, we’re right here with you in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and across California.


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After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of traffic law, including injuries that arise from car accidents during wildfires. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

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