HAMPTON, Fla. — The Bradford County Sheriff's Office is urging drivers to be safe and take precautions following an early morning crash involving a car being wedged under a fallen tree.
The driver, a Gainesville resident, was driving on County Road 221 south of County Road 18 in Hampton just before 6 a.m., when the car hit an oak tree that had fallen across the road, the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post. The impact wedged the car underneath the tree, and firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to pull the driver out of the car within 10 minutes of arrival on the scene.
Bradford County Sheriff's Office Patrol Commander Captain Kevin Mueller says the driver survived because the driver's seat of the car broke on impact, which caused the driver to lie backward.
"Had that seat not broke(n), the outcome could have been much worse," Mueller said.
The sheriff's office says this is the second crash in several weeks where a road obstruction was hit by a passing vehicle. On March 27, a pickup truck crashed into a semitrailer that was blocking SW County Road 18. In both cases, the crashes happened at night when visibility was limited, the Facebook post says.
The sheriff's office says many drivers feel less confident when driving at night, especially those who have vision problems. Reports show traffic-related deaths are as much as three times higher when driving at night, according to the sheriff's office.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office gives the following advice for nighttime driving safety:
- Headlights On! At the very least, you should turn your headlamps on about an hour before dusk. This makes it easier for you to see as the sun sets, but also makes you more visible to other drivers.
- During times of bad weather, use your lights regardless of the time of day. Thunder storms and heavy rain severely impedes visibility.
- Keeping the headlights clean, aimed in the right direction and lit is the key to safe night driving.
- Most importantly, drivers should always be very aware of driving conditions and surroundings.
"Always expect the unexpected, especially at night," Mueller said. "Trees can fall at any time when the ground is saturated and crashes can happen in an instant."