Springtime brings spring showers, fresh flowers...and flash flooding to our nation's highways. The National Weather Service says that flash flooding, not lightening, is the biggest danger to human life during sudden storms -- and many of those deaths occur in cars when the weather conditions suddenly turn dry roads into raging waterways.
Many of those deaths could have been prevented if the driver had made the correct choices along the way. Here are some things that you should know.
It's Only A Matter Of Inches
It only takes a few inches of water to lift an ordinary passenger car off the ground and sweep it away. Just 12 inches of quick-moving water can lift most small cars and 2 feet of water will quickly overpower almost any vehicle, including an SUV or pickup, sweeping it downstream.
While it isn't always known in advance that an area is prone to flash flooding, the Federal Highway Administration supports the use of the yellow or pink warning signs that you sometimes see near roadways with the phrase "Turn Around Don't Drown." The yellow signs are intended as permanent warnings that an area is prone to flooding in bad weather. The pink signs are used to warn drivers that the area is currently impassable or dangerous due to prolonged flooding.
Drivers Should Know The Safety Rules
The biggest mistake that drivers make is refusing to turn around when they see standing or running water ahead. Running water can quickly overpower even a big truck that looks like it could handle the stream going through the road. Additionally, standing water could mask a deep pool that will flood your engine and leave you stranded in the water, and an undercurrent could sweep you off your feet once you exit the vehicle. Unstable ground hiding below standing water could cause your vehicle to tip over.
If you're being swept away by floodwater or find yourself sinking into deep waters, open your windows. It's the only way to equalize the pressure on both sides of the car so that you can open the door to get out of the vehicle -- which is safer than staying inside. If the car flips over before you can get out, try to find a pocket of air at the highest inside point of the vehicle and use whatever you have available to break open the window of your car so that you can either swim through the window or get the door open once the water pressure equalizes.
While not every death or injury due to flash flooding can be prevented, the driver's common sense can go a long way toward keeping passengers safe. If you're injured while the passenger in someone else's car because the driver refused to obey the warning signs or ignored obvious water danger, or a loved one was killed under those circumstances, consider contacting a car accident attorney to discuss the possibility of either a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover compensation.