Last week’s flooding in the Houston area claimed the lives of at least eight drivers, leaving local leaders searching for better ways to improve barricade placement and to educate motorists about the dangers of driving on flooded roads.
Three of the fatalities occurred at the same Houston underpass.
AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following advice for driving in heavy rains:
- Heed the warnings of emergency officials and don’t attempt to drive on closed roads or into evacuated areas.
- Turn on windshield wipers and headlights as soon as rain begins to fall. It's not just common sense; it's the law in numerous states.
- Don’t attempt to cross any standing or moving water that looks more than a few inches deep. It doesn’t take much water to cause a car’s engine to stall and leave you stranded. Six inches of water on a road can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
- Try to avoid bridges and roads that are known to flood. If the roadway has been flooded, take a detour. Floodwaters can be deceptively strong. Nearly half of all people who die in flash floods are in cars and have underestimated the power of floodwaters or have not acted fast enough to escape.
- Drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles must remember that they are not immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces. SUVs are just as likely to lose traction as any other vehicle.
- Slow down. Speed limits are set for ideal road conditions. Rain decreases visibility and increases stopping distances.
- Increase following distances. Normal dry pavement following distances (2-3 seconds) should be increased to 8 seconds when driving on slippery surfaces.
- Be a follower. Driving in the tracks of other vehicles can improve traction and help avoid hydroplaning.
- If visibility is limited so driving feels unsafe, pull over and wait for the rain to let up. If possible, pull into a parking lot or onto a side street where it is safer. Be sure to put on your flashers and pull as far off the road as possible.
- Be prepared. Carry a cell phone and make sure it is charged.
To view a video about the flood cleanup in Houston, click on the photo or link below the headline.