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Navigating Unpredictable Flood Water On The Roads

We’ve all heard the saying, “if it’s flooded, forget it!” and this saying still provides invaluable advice. However, have you ever wondered if there were certain circumstances in which driving through flood water is ok?

Australia’s unpredictable weather puts many areas at risk of flash flooding. Should you find your road blocked by metres of water, it’s generally best to avoid going into it. Unfortunately, every year people get caught in high and quickly rising flood water as they ignore the warnings; this results in fatalities and often requires aid from emergency services.

If the warning signs aren’t adhered to, you could find your vehicle being quickly swept away by flooded roads. Flash flooding is a very real danger when it comes to flood waters; these waters can sometimes rise above two and a half metres, which has the potential to submerge a car. Obviously, when in doubt, it’s best to just avoid flooded roads. After all, you may not be able to see how deep the water is, how fast it’s moving, or how fast it’s rising. It isn’t worth the risk, so simply take the long way around or avoid driving altogether if you are caught in a storm or if your area has recently flash flooded.

To prepare for flood waters, always keep an eye on the weather and news to see if flooding is likely. Plan your journey ahead, make alternative arrangements, and leave extra time to get to your destination. Of course, always obey road safety and road closure signs. These signs are enforced by law and it is illegal to disobey them. Another thing to keep an eye out for is landslides, especially if it’s been raining a lot. As many roadsides will have exposed layers of rocks and soil that could slip during rainy seasons, it’s a good idea to be extra careful when driving through this type of terrain.

While the most obvious solution to navigating flood water is to simply avoid, there may be situations where it can be safe to drive through some water – we’ll cover this below.

Marketing Campaigns

Marketing campaigns have been used in Australia to deter people from irresponsible driving during storms and flood water. This is how the largely popular saying “if it’s flooded, forget it” was disseminated across the country. But did you know this extra information from the campaign?

  • 29% of Queenslanders answered ‘yes’ to having driven through flood waters
  • Males are more likely to drive through flood waters with the figure being made up with 36% of males and 22% of females
  • Young people were the most reckless with 40% of individuals aged 18-24 admitting they have driven through dangerous water
  • 4WD owners had more confidence with 40% of them answering ‘yes’
  • Regional drivers were also above the average with 33% of them saying they drive through flooded waters
    • Personas made for individuals who risk driving through flood water include:
      The reckless risk taker (over confident, usually 4WD owners, will attempt most flooded areas, full of bravado)
    • The cautious risk taker (have local knowledge and experience, flooding is a part of daily life and navigating through them is a calculated risk they take – regional and rural usually regard themselves as safe drivers)
    • The novice (lack of experience and knowledge leads to make poor decisions and left in dangerous situations, unaware of consequences)

Queensland’s Weather and Flooding

While all parts of Australia have areas that flood, Queensland is particularly known for having tropical and subtropical climates and regular wet seasons. During these wet seasons, typically from November to April, Queensland areas can experience flooding and landslides. This is why there are many signs around Queensland that indicate flooding risk and levels, particularly as you move further north throughout the state.

When The Water Subsides…

While receding water might be a sign that things are over, it’s still not always safe to drive through an area that was flooded. This is due to potential damage that the flood water could have caused. There is the possibility of potholes, erosion, and other damage to the road. Further, debris could be covering the road. This could cause damage to your car, which could compromise your safety. Roads could still be drying out after the water has subsided and could still be slippery, so always give it some time before you drive on previously flooded roads and always drive carefully.

How To Navigate Flooded Roads

As mentioned, it’s generally best to avoid flooded roads. However, if it is very obvious that the water covering a road is very shallow and clear enough to see the bottom (and unmoving), it may be safe to drive through it if you own a 4WD or larger vehicle (Always check your car’s owner’s manual to see the max level of flood water you can drive through).

To navigate this water, it’s best to drive slowly and steadily to avoid making a bow wave. Don’t speed through the water and use your common sense. Test your brakes as soon as you can after you pass through the water, to check that the flood water hasn’t sept into any important car elements, such as your brakes or engine – if water is sucked into your engine it can cause incredible and expensive damage.

You should not drive in fast moving water or deep water as it can result in your car being carried off the road. This is dangerous for you inside and others close by. Be particularly careful if the water you are crossing is adjacent or parallel to a river. The body of water you are crossing may be much more powerful or flowing faster than you realise.

Driving really slowly is the key. If you drive too quickly, your tyres may lose traction. This will mean you lose control of steering and your tyres may also come away from the road causing your car to drift or get swept away. If you skid across the surface, this is called aquaplaning and in this event, you have little to no control over where your vehicle is headed after that.

Driving in Floods, Wet Weather and Stormy Conditions

Driving in these conditions can be just as dangerous as night-time driving or even drunk driving sometimes. If you’re ever driving through floods, wet weather or stormy weather, safety is priority. That’s why we outline the following tips for driving through these conditions:

  • Always use your headlights and fog lights when visibility is poor
  • Leave extra space between you and the car in front
  • Try to avoid driving if the conditions are extremely bad
  • Slow down
  • Water deeper than the base of your car door is enough to float your car!
  • Make sure your car is always in excellent condition for such weather events by ensuring you’re getting it serviced regularly (yes, even the windscreen!)

If you follow these tips closely, you’ll be sure to not get yourself in hot water – or any kind of water, really!

Novus Glass are industry leaders in windscreen repair and replacement. For peace of mind knowing your windscreen has been replaced with the best in safety technology and is going to last, call Novus on 13 22 34 or contact us online.

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