Severe Weather: Driving in Flooded Waters

by Gwen Newell

Hurricanes are known to bring a triple threat: high winds, floods and possible tornadoes. And, just one month into what could be a very active hurricane season, severe weather may cause many Carolinians to experience heavy rain that could potentially result in flooding. If you’re ever caught on the receiving end of a hurricane or tropical storm, it is important to note that behind the wheel is the last place you should be, as driving during flood conditions endangers the lives of both you and the first responders who might need to come to your rescue.

As storms are seemingly getting stronger and affecting larger stretches of coastline, AAA is sharing a few driving tips for motorists when dealing with the effects of heavy rain and flooding:

  • Visibility While Driving: If you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance while driving during wet weather, pull off the road as far as you can and wait for the rain to ease up. Make sure to turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
  • Slow Down and Leave Room: Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. It is important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them.
  • Avoid Cruise Control: Never use cruise control in wet conditions. The chances of losing control of your vehicle greatly increase.
  • Responding to a Skid: Even the most careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car is about to skid, don’t panic and follow these basic steps: continue to look and steer in the direction the driver wants the car to go and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.
  • Avoid Standing Water and Flooded Roads at All Times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can be very dangerous. Flooded roads can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from: flooding the engine, warping brake rotors, loss of power steering, short in electrical components.
  • If Your Vehicle Stalls in a Flooded Area: DO NOT REMAIN IN THE CAR. Abandon your vehicle as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Flood waters can elevate quickly, sweeping away the vehicle and its occupants.

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