Why Flooded Roads Are More Dangerous Than They Appear
It’s surprising how many people risk driving on flooded roads each year. Many who risk it require help from emergency crews, which puts them in danger as well. If you find yourself approaching an area where water is covering the roadway, you need to be extremely cautious, and whenever possible, turn around and find a different route. Never drive down a road if the water appears to be more than 6 inches deep, especially at night when it’s harder to see where you’re going.
Why is Driving on a Flooded Road so Dangerous?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, many drownings occur as a result of driving on flooded roads. Many people think that cars are too heavy to float away, but that’s just not the case. All it takes is six inches of standing water to make you lose control of your car, and many cars can be completely carried away by only two feet of water. If your car is small, water all it takes is 12 inches deep to move it.
Driving through standing water can also cause your engine to suck in water and stall, leaving you stranded. At the very least, you risk losing control and hitting a tree or some other object. In the worst-case scenario, the water may continue to rise, putting you or your passengers at risk of drowning. There could also be power lines in the water, which could cause electrocution.
Often, a driver will approach a water-covered roadway and think it’s shallow enough for them to get across, only to get part way through and discover the water is much deeper than they thought it was. Even if emergency crews are able to rescue you successfully, driving through flood waters could do significant damage to your vehicle. Try to have everything you need on hand when storms are approaching, so you’re not forced to drive in dangerous conditions.
Keeping Yourself and Your Vehicle Safer on Flooded Roads
Never drive through water that’s moving or is deeper than curb level. If you have no choice but to drive down a flooded roadway, here are some things you can do keep yourself safer and possibly prevent damage to your vehicle.
First of all, drive slowly. Don’t go over 25 to 35 miles per hour to avoid splashing water up under your vehicle and possibly onto its electronic components. If your engine has sucked in water, don’t try to restart it. Your injectors and spark plugs must be removed first to allow the water to drain out.
Even if you drive a 4×4 with a high-level air intake, it could still be washed away by rushing water. If you feel your vehicle losing its grip on the road, you may be starting to float. As crazy as it sounds, you should try opening the door to let some water into the vehicle to weigh it down so it can get a grip on the road again.
Once you’re all the way through the water, your brakes will be wet. Driving very slowly, test the brakes to see if they will stop the vehicle. You may need to tap the brakes gently several times to dry them off before they will begin working properly again.
A day or two after you have driven through water, you should have it checked over by a qualified technician. The intake manifold and differential fluid should be checked to make sure there’s no moisture in them. The belts should also be inspected, and the oil changed to prevent future issues. If there’s a pink tinge to your transmission fluid, it probably has water in it.
You should avoid driving through water whenever possible. If you are forced to drive through standing water for some reason, following these tips could keep you safer and possibly prevent damage to your vehicle.