Florida residents are unfortunately well-acquainted with the dangers and risks associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. In the first half 2016 alone, the Sunshine State has braced itself for a number of severe storms, including Hurricane Matthew.
As West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers, we want everyone to stay as safe as possible during hurricane season. Although it’s not always practical or financially feasible to put your life on hold during a bad storm or the aftermath of a hurricane, getting behind the wheel when the roads are flooded can be extremely dangerous. Here is some helpful information about the dangers of driving when roadways are water-covered.
Floods Are the Number One Weather-Related Killer
According to the National Weather Service, flooding is the top cause of all weather-related deaths in the United States. Flash floods, which are common in Florida during hurricane season, are especially dangerous because they create large amounts of water very quickly and often without much warning.
The volatile nature of hurricanes means that predicting the changes and shifts in wind and rainfall during these violent storms is an inexact science.
Although many people assume that flooding in the home is a leading cause of flood-related death, this is inaccurate. In fact, a staggering 64 percent of all flood-related fatalities occur in vehicles.
On average, 75 people die in flash floods every year, which is twice the number of deaths caused by lightning strikes. The Weather Channel states that driving “is the single worst decision you can make in a flash flood.”
Facts about Flash Floods and Vehicles
Water and motor vehicles simply don’t mix. Because it is difficult to judge the depth of water on the road, it is never safe to drive a car, motorcycle, or truck through water. Here’s why:
- Most vehicles, including SUVs, can be swept away by as little as two feet of rushing water.
- The average vehicle can float in just a foot of water.
- It takes just six inches of water in the bottom of a passenger car to cause stalling and a loss of control.
- Rising water can invade your car in seconds.
Water flowing at six miles per hour exerts the same force per unit area as an F5 tornado. Water flowing at 25 miles per hour is the equivalent of 790 mph winds.
These sobering facts have prompted the National Weather Service to adopt the slogan, “Turn around, don’t drown!” No errand, destination, or obligation is worth risking your life.
What to Do If You Get Trapped in a Waterlogged Vehicle
In some cases, water moves or accumulates so quickly, motorists get caught in it despite their best efforts to avoid it. If you become trapped in your car during a flash flood, it’s important to stay calm.
The Weather Channel also offers the following tips:
- Roll down your window as slowly as possible, so water does not rush in too quickly.
- You can find pockets of air near the vehicle’s roof and against the back window.
- If you can’t open your vehicle’s door, you must wait until the water pressure inside and outside the vehicle has equalized, which should happen once the water reaches neck level. Cars.com recommends not breaking your car’s window, as the water will force the broken glass toward you.
Get Help from a West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a flood or flash flood, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Don’t wait to speak to a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer about your claim.