The Snowbirds are Here… and so are Their Cars
The winter so far up north has been a cold one, and that means the warm attraction of Florida is strong. Combine a strong economy, relatively low gasoline prices, and the efforts of VISIT FLORIDA, and it’s adding up so far to a bigger than usual influx of visitors.
Hotel, restaurant, even golf course prices are on the rise with the demand, and so is traffic.
Year round residents in South Florida probably started noticing the increase in visitors as early as Thanksgiving, and while the season lasts until late March or April–depending on how early or late Easter falls (early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th) and Passover. Easter falls on April 1st in 2018—right in the middle—and Passover begins March 30th.
One thing is for sure: February and March are going to be busy, busy busy times on South Florida roads. Just look at the license plates from northern states or Canadian provinces: All these snowbirds mean more vehicles on the road.
Traffic Patterns Change—a lot
Florida DOT data measures traffic increases of 16%-20+% over summer figures. With many South Florida roadways already crowded, that increase causes problems– and can mean more accidents.
Accidents Increase with Confused Drivers
Most visitors aren’t nearly as familiar with area roads as full-time residents. They may be distracted by in-car navigation systems, or while calling for directions. Even changing the radio station may mean scanning the dial looking for something that suits instead of the usual preferred one.
Unfortunately, this leads to collisions, some of them deadly.
Economic Benefit of Snowbirds
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates about a billion dollars spent annually in Broward County alone. That’s one reason Florida is a no-income tax state. But, as a University of Florida study shows, cities must plan for additional traffic congestion, additional police and fire protection, medical services and more to accommodate in incoming Snowbirds. This is true all across the state—about a 20% population shift from winter to summer—but even greater in South and Central Florida.
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