What are the Dangers of Driving Through Flood Waters?

Flood Waters

The summer season is enjoyable, but there are also many dangers for motorists. The extreme heat normally triggers powerful storms in local areas. Heavy downpours can easily flood roadways near rivers or streams or in areas with poor drainage. The sheer force of flood waters will trap even the most experienced driver in a difficult situation.

Driving through flood waters puts motorists at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 100 people are killed in floods each year. Additionally, the National Weather Service (NWS) has found that over 65 percent of flood-related fatalities over the past few years were caused by motorists trying to drive through the water.

A flood is dangerous for all road users. In fact, floods are the most frequent natural disaster in Pennsylvania. A flood can cause massive amounts of damage.  Every motorist needs to know the dangers of driving in a flood. Listed below are dangers drivers may encounter when going through a flooded road.

Severe Injuries

It is almost impossible to tell how deep flood waters can be or what lies underneath the surface, especially if driving through a storm. There is also the chance the road below may have collapsed. It does not take much for a car to be swept away in a flood. Merely 12 to 24 inches of moving water can cause a standard vehicle to dislodge and float. Larger vehicles, like pick-up trucks or SUVs, can be dislodged at 30 to 36 inches. 

Once a car’s tires lose contact with the ground, the driver will lose control. The rushing water can force the vehicle into nearby trees or debris, into telephone poles, or even into other vehicles. Additionally, there is also a chance the vehicle will flip over, which can cause the driver to be submerged in the water. 

Although floodwaters can cause drowning and flood-related illnesses, such as bacterial and viral infections, car accident injuries are common as well.  Concussions, cuts and abrasions, and fractures and lacerations are all possibilities, especially with other cars in the area, fallen trees, and road debris. 

Car Accidents

Since it is quite difficult to tell the depth and strength of the water, attempting to drive through a flood can put others in danger. Should a driver go through flood waters, they not only increase the chance of suffering an injury, but they also risk damaging another car.

If weather reports warn of torrential storms or flooded waters, staying home is the best option for drivers. There is always the possibility of getting caught in an unsuspecting storm. When this occurs, people on the road may panic and rush to seek shelter. Drivers may attempt to cross a flooded road without truly understanding the consequences.

Hazardous conditions may cause many drivers to lose focus or act irrationally, but that does not keep them from being liable for a car accident. According to the NWS, floods are responsible for more deaths than hurricanes, cold weather, or tornadoes, with the majority of these fatalities occurring in vehicles. 

If the road ahead is flooded, all drivers should turn around if possible and find a safer route home. If there is no other option and a motorist must attempt to drive through, they must never attempt doing so if another car is in the water. This will only increase the likelihood of injuries.

It is important to know that even after driving through a flood, there is an increased chance of causing a car accident. Flood waters will normally contain different oils and grease that can cause brakes to lose their stopping power. A flood can also quickly corrode important safety components on a vehicle, such as suspension components or electrical wiring. If a car has been through a flood, it is best to get to a safe area as quickly as possible.

Property Damage

A flood can destroy a home or neighborhood, but it can also significantly damage to a car. Water can get sucked through the exhaust pipe or into the engine’s intake, causing irreparable damage. Even if there is no engine damage, water inside the cabin area can cause electronics to fry and mildew in the upholstery. 

A car damaged by a flood should always be inspected by a certified technician. A car that was in a flood without the occurrence being documented may cause the owner to lose their warranty. The owner may lose insurance coverage and will have to pay for any repairs.   

What Should I Do if a Road is Flooded?

It is always best to have an emergency kit handy that is well-stocked with non-perishable food, drinkable water, and blankets. If a driver sees a flooded road ahead of them, the CDC recommends to stop and turn around immediately.  However, flash floods can happen quickly, and turning around may not be an option. 

If one is ever caught in a flood, the best course of action is to not panic and remain calm. If one is in rushing water, emergency services recommend staying inside the vehicle. If the vehicle stalls out, abandoning the car and finding higher ground is the next course of action, but do not get into the water.

Additionally, knowing beforehand if the area is at risk for a flood is also helpful. There is also the difference between a flash flood watch and warning. A flash flood watch means there may be flooding in the area and to stay alert, while a warning means a flood is occurring in the area.

A driver may be held liable for damaging property or injuring another driver after knowing the risks of driving through a flooded road. However, it may be difficult to prove that a driver is responsible for a weather-related car accident. For this reason, it is best to contact a reputable car accident lawyer.

Kensington Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC Help Victims Injured in Weather-Related Collisions

The summer season is not always sunny, and severe weather can cause dangerous road conditions. If you were injured in a weather-related accident, contact one of our Kensington car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC. Call us today at 267-225-0770 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Northeast Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Philadelphia, including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney.