In our previous post on wet season driving, we touched on the importance of driving to road conditions, doubling your distance behind other cars, and preparing your car for the wet, but we felt that flooded roads deserved its own safety reinforcement.
The Queensland Government established the perfect slogan for those eerie, wet days where, “If it’s flooded, forget it.” This, however, didn’t get the same traction as hoped and the SES are still called upon to rescue vehicles and their owners from flooded waters every year because it isn’t as shallow as first thought.
Never drive, ride or walk through floodwater
The same rules apply to kids playing in floodwater as they do to driving in them. A “road closed” sign is there for a reason and it is unsafe to travel on. Don’t make the Police or SES jobs harder by driving into them and require rescuing. It is also a given that if there is no “road closed” sign on a flooded road, you still DO NOT drive into it.
Like all those pesky pot holes that seem to triple in the wet season, they can also become a hazard in floodwater. The water can erode and wash away road surfaces, and a driver will not be able to see or notice them until their car has hit one. Driving through floodwater is just not worth it.
Engineers at the UNSW conducted tests to see just how much water on the roads is required to make even a large vehicle unstable. It was quickly established how dangerous it really is to cross flooded waters.
It was found that small cars like a Toyota Yaris (1.05 tonnes) was moved by water 15cm deep and flowing at a speed of 3.6km/h. The vehicle would completely float away at 60cm of water. A 2.5 tonne Nissan Patrol 4WD tested to be unstable in 45cm of water at a similar flow speed and 95cm would see the four wheel drive completely float.
This just further proves that no matter the size of your vehicle, it is never safe to drive in flooded waters.
NSW SES Acting Commissioner Greg Newton said the number one cause of death and injury in a flood is entering into floodwater. “People need to re-think their actions and not drive into floodwater, because by doing this they are not only placing their lives at risk, but the lives of our volunteers who have to go out and rescue them,” he said.
Since 1900, 1859 people in Australia have died in floods. That’s more than bushfires and earthquakes which have plagued Australia over the years. Of these 1859 people, 179 have been since 2000. This is astounding considering there is a great deal more education on the dangers of flooded waters and the regular updates that people receive in the event of a natural disaster. This ultimately means that our search and rescue teams are working harder than they should be as people ignore warning signs. The Australian Swift Water Rescue teams are often challenged with overcoming the power of the water to come to stranded people’s aid. In addition to their help, the Fire Brigade are always on hand in the event of an emergency. This coupled with the SES and Police, it is astonishing that they are all under pressure in flood times. Make sure you don’t get yourself into a rescue situation from driving in floodwaters, so these teams can help those in unavoidable danger.
The general rule of thumb is to not drive into water that’s too deep to see the paint markings on the road and remember, “If it’s flooded, forget it.” Play the waiting game, stay off the roads, and it could save your life.
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