A familiar sight on roadways on Aug. 29, 2019, near gas stations in Florida as residents scramble to fuel up ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

A familiar sight on roadways on Aug. 29, 2019, near gas stations in Florida as residents scramble to fuel up ahead of Hurricane Dorian.


One of the most unpleasant parts of hurricane preparation: people buying things and what that does to Florida’s already construction-clogged roadways.

So many people are heeding advice to top off their gas tanks that it’s creating traffic tie-ups as lines of frustrated drivers at stations spill out into adjacent traffic lanes.

Of course, in the likely possibility that the power goes out if a major storm like Hurricane Dorian makes landfall near where you are, filling up ahead of a weather system like that is prudent.

So how can we avoid some of those headaches on the road?

The answer is obvious, but you still need to hear it:

Drive in the middle or left lanes of surface roads — especially in neighborhoods where you know there are gas stations.

The right lanes will be blocked with cars stuck for blocks either hoping to get gas or, like us, because we keep forgetting and drive in the right lane by habit.


Lines of cars snake around the block to get into a Costco gas station in Miami-Dade at Northwest 79th Avenue on Aug. 29, 2019, ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Julia Ingram


Beyond that tip, here are a couple o fother tips that could make driving a shade easier:

Don’t race through puddles. You run the risk of driving into a deeper pocket of water than you realize and can stall out your car — thus contributing to more traffic obstacles, not to mention ruining your car.

Watch for roadside debris or post-storm damage. Much of this will clog the lanes closest to trees and other things. Stay in the middle or left unless you need to make a right turn nearby on your route.

Use your turn signals. We realize turn signals are hard to find in cars that drive on Florida roads, but a quick glance around your car’s compartment when you slip behind the wheel should clue you in on where your blinkers are. Avoid an accident. Avoid contributing to roadside obstacles. See rule above.

Don’t use your hazard lights in the rain. It could confuse your fellow drivers.

Check your gas-finding apps. GasBuddy’s app and its web-enabled Fuel Tracker tells drivers where gas available and how much it is. People can also report gas outages. Using this app not only helps you find stations with fuel or, in non-storm times, the best prices, but it can also tell you if there are gas stations on your route. You can then plan accordingly to move over a lane for as long as you can.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.

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