This week’s storms have reminded us of a serious driving hazard that is sometimes forgotten: flash flooding. The floods Wednesday were so bad, in fact, that I-55/70 in East St. Louis was closed for a four hour period. Several motorists found themselves—and their cars—stuck in 5 foot deep water, including Sri Mirle of Cleveland Ohio, who was forced to leave his rental car at the intersection of 9th and Branch.
It’s all in the numbers and specifically the depth of the water – Remember these important facts when driving through a possible flash flood:
- 6 inches of water is typically enough to reach the bottom of a car and cause the driver to lose control
- 12 inches of water is typically enough to float a vehicle (imagine your car blissfully floating off of the road with you in it!)
- 2 feet of rushing water is usually enough to carry a vehicle away.
Fatal car accident statistics show that nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related, according to “The Hidden Danger,” from the National Weather Service. Often, when motorists are used to driving in low areas, through highway dips, or over low bridges, they feel more safe than they should while driving through these hazards during hazardous weather. Always be cautious, listen to the radio for updates, and pull over if you feel at all uncomfortable.
Driving in these conditions is very dangerous. Unfortunately, if you get into an accident, your dealings with the insurance company afterwards could be just as dangerous. Don’t sign any forms or give any recorded statements until you’ve gotten a free copy of my Missouri accident guide, “I Survived! The Crash Victim’s Guide to Dealing with the Aftermath.”