The deadliest day on American roads isn't New Year's Eve.
It's the Fourth of July, where an average of 141 people were killed each year from 2006 through 2010, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The reason: school's out and more drivers than usual are on the road, headed to beaches, barbecues and firework displays. Alcohol is often part of the festivities, and it's an all-day event vs. just the evening.
"Summer days in general tend to be the deadliest ones on the highway," said Russ Rader, spokesman for the institute.
Here are some things you need know if you are cruising through Florida.
Expect lots of company on Florida's roads
Turnpike motorists headed north to the theme parks in Orlando or beyond can expect heavy traffic and congestion at toll plazas north of Lantana on Fridays and Sundays and a slight bump in traffic Tuesday afternoon. The worst period is from 4 to 8 p.m.
If you're staying in South Florida, expect heavier than normal traffic heading to the beaches.
Beware red light cameras:
About 70 municipalities in Florida have red light cameras.
You'll find them in travel destinations such as Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton and Daytona Beach. But you're more likely to get a $158 red light camera ticket right here in South Florida.
The city of Miami is the most aggressive, collecting on 45,080 tickets from July through April, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. After Miami, they included Miami Gardens, North Miami, Hollywood, Coral Gables and Pembroke Pines.
Slippery when wet
Nearly six out of 10 drivers in a recent AAA survey said they'd hydroplaned or skidded when driving in wet weather, and 10 percent of them ended up in a car crash.
If you must drive on wet roads, go slower than the posted speed limit and avoid driving through standing water. Check that your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread depth. Turn off your cruise control in wet conditions. You may have to reduce the car's speed by lifting off the gas pedal to prevent loss of traction and you can't do that when the cruise control is engaged.
Paying more for tolls:
That trip to Orlando, the Keys or Naples is going to cost you more this year. Tolls onFlorida's Turnpikeand other state owned and operated toll roads and bridges went up June 24.
A trip to Disney via the turnpike from Sunrise Boulevard to Osceola Parkway will now cost about $1 to $2 more in tolls. Now you pay $12.60 with SunPass or $16.65 with cash. Going south from Delray Beach to the Keys, drivers will pay $1.50 more in cash, or $1.25 more with SunPass.
On Alligator Alley, you'll pay $2.75 SunPass and $3 cash.
Don't have SunPass?
Drivers won't find any toll booths on the turnpike's Homestead Extension between Miramar and Florida City.
They either pay with SunPass or their license plate is photographed and a bill is sent to the vehicle's registered owner. The system also works for rental cars.
The bill includes a $2.50 administrative fee and information on how it can be paid. Don't want to pay the fee? Get SunPass, or sign up for a prepaid Toll By Plate account with a credit or debit card at tollbyplate.com or call 1-888-824-8655.
Save at the pump
Drivers paying more at the toll booth will find savings at the gas pump.
Florida prices are averaging about 30 cents per gallon less than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
Drivers heading north will pay even less. In Orlando, drivers were paying an average of $3.13 per gallon to fill up on Friday. Cross the border to Georgia or Alabama and drivers will pay about 5 to 15 cents less than in Florida.
Researcher John Maines contributed to this report.
firstname.lastname@example.org , 954-356-4155, 561-243-6550, Twitter @MikeTurnpike
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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