Rain doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but streets can become deadly in a matter of minutes if floodwater rises. Flooding on roadways is serious business. If you don’t believe us, ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that over half of flood-related drownings resulted from a vehicle driving into floodwater. Drivers who get stuck in floods aren’t crazy or really into risk-taking. Like most people, they just underestimate how dangerous a low-water crossing can be. Sometimes you can’t determine the depth of water if the road dips or if there aren’t any good reference points around. Even if it’s apparent that the water is only a few inches or a foot deep, drivers don’t realize how serious the consequences can be for driving through water. At the very least, it can result in some serious vehicle damage, and at the worst can result in you or one of your passengers drowning.
The Power of Floodwater
6 inches: Six inches of water is enough to cause a vehicle’s tires to lose traction and slide. Sure, you probably not at risk of drowning, but you could easily lose control of your car and get into a serious crash.
12 inches: It only takes a foot of water to float most cars. If you’re floating, you’re not steering or braking. Rushing floodwater can carry you downstream.
2 feet: Floods are risky for even the largest, toughest vehicles. A pickup truck or SUV can be carried away by only a couple feet of water.
>2 feet: At this point, your car can definitely get carried away if you try to drive through a flooded area. An additional danger with driving through flooded roads at this point is the possibility of your engine hydrolocking and losing function of your electronic components. Hydrolock happens when floor water makes it into the combustion chamber and prevents the engine from running. If your vehicle stalls, turning around is no longer an option without a working engine. Ditch your car and get to safety immediately. Insurance can help with any damages to your car, but it can’t save your life.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your car when there’s a flood is to follow this advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown (TADD). If you come upon a roadway that appears to be flooded, DON’T try to drive through it. If you come across barricades blocking off a flooded section of the road, DON’T try to drive around them. Turn around and find a detour. It’s closed for a reason. Don’t destroy your car or risk your life due to impatience. Avoid flooded areas, and learn how to avoid hydroplaning when you’re driving on wet roads with standing water. Flood safety everyone! It’s no joke.
Before heading out for a drive, make sure to check the weather for the possibility of any flash floods, heavy rain, hurricanes, highway and road flooding or storms. If you see any warning for these conditions, be sure to do some investigation to find out what routes you can take to avoid driving through floods and dangerous areas.