Motorists often underestimate the dangers of flooded roads. From inside the car, they may seem like oversized puddles or small streams flowing across the road. However, there are many less than obvious hazards associated with them. These include:
- Electrocution. If a storm caused the flooding, winds could have knocked down power lines. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity which means that a power line in the water places you in danger.
- Your car may get swept off the road. Water’s heavy weight gives it a lot of heft. A box filled with water that is four feet to a side weighs 4000 pounds which is the same weight as a large car. It only takes six inches of flowing water at over 8 mph to push a car off the road.
- Your car can float away. Since most of your car’s volume is empty air, it only takes two feet of water to make your car float.
- The road can wash out from under your car. Moving water can erode the soil or bridge structure beneath the pavement. With little left to support it, the pavement then gives way. The motorist that has no awareness of the undercutting occurring beneath the road, only sees intact pavement. This video demonstrates the process.
- Your car can get stuck. The road surface underneath the water could have debris or large eroded holes. If your car gets stuck in this, you have no choice but to abandon your car.
- You can hydroplane or flood your engine. Driving too quickly through water can cause hydroplaning and loss of control. It may also stop your engine if it splashes into the air intakes.
If the road ahead is flooded, turn around and find another route. If you decide to cross because others are doing it, know that the flood waters may be increasing in depth by the minute. If your car gets stuck, get out immediately and seek higher ground. Your car is no protection against rising flood water.