Flooding is the most common natural disaster worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 40 percent of all natural disasters deal with flash flooding, and nearly 200 people a year die as a result. Although 200 people a year doesn’t seem like a lot, the National Weather Service estimates that 45 percent of these deaths and injuries occur as a result of preventable vehicle accidents, as drivers attempt to cross flooded roadways.
Although Virginia is generally considered a warm and dry region, over the past decade it has become increasingly susceptible to flooding. Fairfax County alone has over 50 roadway areas that frequently flood during heavy rains, including Lewinsville, Belleville, Brooks Mill, and Hunter Station. This is why it is extremely important not only to know the risks of driving during floods, but also to know how to prevent a flood collision.
Flood Driving Precautions
Flood driving risks can be avoided—and accidents prevented—as long as you know how to properly recognize and identify potential dangers. These six safety steps will help.
- Respect barricades. If the roadway is barricaded, don’t try to sneak through. The barricades are there for a reason, and naively thinking your car can make it through could wind up causing a disastrous situation.
- Avoid standing water. If the road is covered with water, and there is a safe way to avoid it, do so. You and your vehicle can be swept away in as little as 12 inches of water. In addition, driving through a section of road covered by standing water can allow water to enter your car’s engine compartment, causing your car to stall and stranding you in the middle of rising flood waters.
- Be aware of your engine. If your car stalls in the middle of a flooded area, be aware that trying to restart your engine may cause serious damage to the motor.
- Watch the other cars around you. See if they can make it through before you attempt it yourself. You can judge the depth of the water by looking at their tires as they attempt to navigate through the water.
- Dry your brakes. Your brakes will become wet when you drive through standing water, which will affect their stopping ability. Apply light pressure to the brake pedal to dry out your braking system parts after you’re safely past the flooded area.
- Slow down. Driving through a large area of standing water at too high a rate of speed can cause your tires to hydroplane. Never race through water; instead, go slowly to make sure you have traction.
Keeping Your Head Above Water
Floods can be extremely scary, to the point where all you want to do is make it home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, if you don’t follow the safety rules while driving, you could wind up causing a serious accident or becoming stranded in a quickly deepening lake. This is why it is extremely important to keep your head above water and stay safe, avoid dangerously flooded areas, and remain calm during a flash flood.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of the dangerous consequences of driving through flooded areas. Use your social media to share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent flash flood accident.
Remember, they may not know their risks until it’s too late. By clicking the media icons on this page, you can help prevent a tragic accident.