Saturday, September 10, 2016

Smart Safety: Road Flooded? Don't Drive Through It

Floods can happen anywhere. Even places you wouldn’t expect can become flooded if conditions are right. In recent months, Texas has been particularly hard-hit with major flooding in both Dallas and Houston. Now West Virginia is seeing some terrible flooding. Whether it’s heavy rain or the aftermath of a hurricane, no matter what city you live in the effects of a flood can be damaging!
While flooding is dangerous in any location, it can be particularly deadly when it occurs on roadways. Drivers often underestimate the depth of the water and how little it takes to completely sweep away a vehicle (even a large truck).
Don’t believe us? Check out these videos of recent floods:
If those videos weren’t enough, here are 6 reasons why you should never drive through flooded roads.

There may not be a road
Flood waters from a swollen river can have a very powerful current and can wash away entire swaths of road. This damage can be hidden from view under just a few inches of water and can mean the difference between making it to the other side and being stuck in fast-moving flood waters with a car that won’t work. What’s more, it could mean your life as the soft ground under the water could cause your car to begin sinking.

It doesn’t take much for your tires to lose traction
Tires are designed to maintain traction only on rain-covered roadways. As little as an inch can cause the tires to lose traction completely. That means your tires could begin to spin and that there’s next to nothing keeping your car from being swept away. And while cars are very heavy, many can begin to float in one foot of water. Couple that with the loss of traction, and you’ve got nowhere to go.

It doesn’t take much to damage your car
Even if the water is less than a foot deep, the potential for significant damage to your car still exists. On most passenger cars, six inches of water is enough to threaten your car’s exhaust system and air intake. Once water gets in there, your car can stall and become irreparably damaged. Is it worth the thousands of dollars it would take to replace a busted engine or buy a new car just to save a minute or two?  Don’t drive through a flooded road. Turn around and find another way to get to your destination.

Two feet can carry you away
Two feet of water may not seem like much and, if it’s not moving water, you might be able to make it through if your vehicle is high enough (though we don’t recommend it). But if the water is moving, stay away! Those two feet of water can sweep away pretty much any vehicle regardless of size and drivetrain (see first video above). Four-wheel drive isn’t going to do much good if your car has lost all traction and is now floating, even just an eighth-of-an-inch above the surface of the road. Once your vehicle has lost contact with the road, it’s at the mercy of the current.

Danger often lies beside a flooded road
That moving water on the road might not be very deep and it might not be moving very fast, but think about where it’s going for a moment. Remember that it doesn’t take much for moving water to get your car going somewhere that you don’t want it to be. Roads sometimes run beside creeks, ditches, and even drainage gullies that can swallow your car completely. If you can’t escape in time, you could find yourself trapped in a sinking car. Now, more than a few thousand dollars is at stake – it may mean your life!
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