Floods, in particular flash floods, are responsible for the deaths of more people in the USA every year than any other extreme weather condition.
One issue in particular that many people seem to unaware of is the danger posed by driving a vehicle during a flood or through flood waters. This came to light particularly during the extreme weather experienced in the last 2 years in Queensland, Australia. A report from Science Alert Australia says:
Driving a motor vehicle through floodwaters is the single biggest cause of death during Australian floods, according to a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study.
They go on to give specific figures, which make some pretty disturbing reading:
Professor FitzGerald, of QUT’s School of Public Health, said four out of 10 deaths (39.7 per cent) were associated with driving motor vehicles across flooded waterways or roadways, despite public warnings to avoid them. (Another 8.8 per cent involved the collapse of a flooded roadway.)
It is easy to overlook the dangers of floodwater, and in particular, easy to feel safer in your car:
“Drivers often underestimate the force of flowing water and its capacity to dislodge relatively large vehicles,” Professor FitzGerald said.
“An average car is 6-8 sqm in surface area, and a displacement of 10-20cm of water above the bottom of the chassis will cause the car to float and therefore be washed away.”
If you live in an area threatened by flooding, consider your plans when it comes to using your car. It’s safer if you understand the risks of driving in a flooded area.