In the past week, California rainstorms have triggered a number of flash floods and mudslides – and more rain is forecast for this week.
Each year in the U.S., flooding causes more deaths than any other weather-related danger except extreme heat. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related, according to the National Weather Service. That’s because year after year, many motorists underestimate how quickly floodwaters can rise and how forceful the water can become. They also overestimate their vehicle’s ability to continue running when submerged in floodwaters.
When stranded motorists are questioned after being rescued, they tend to offer the same explanation: They were in a hurry to get home to safety and decided to take a chance by driving through a pool of water.
Here are four driver safety tips, provided by AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can pass along to fleet drivers:
- Make a habit of checking weather reports before driving and listen for news reports of storms or flash flooding.
- Always avoid driving onto water-covered roadways, even if the water depth appears low. Water depth is difficult to gauge on roads, especially at night. Also, there may be debris, tree branches or downed power lines in the water.
- Keep in mind that waters rise quickly during flash floods. A pool of water measuring 6 inches can easily rise to 2 or 3 feet deep in a matter of seconds.
- If your vehicle stalls in a flooded area, do not remain in the car. Abandon it as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Floodwaters can rise quickly and sweep a car and its occupants away.
To watch a video report on how flooding in San Francisco stranded drivers last week, click on the link or photo above.