Why is it unsafe to drive through flood waters?
The Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) has released a campaign called ’15 to float’ to educate motorists about the very small amount of flood water that is needed to make a car float.
A standard one-tonne small hatch or coupe can float in as little as 15 centimetres of water, while a large two-and-a-half-tonne 4WD can float in as little as 45 centimetres. For context: that’s below knee-height for an adult.
The SES has now responded to more than 100 requests for assistance related to vehicles that have become stranded in water over the past nine months.
While moving flood waters can cause your vehicle to lose traction and wash away without much difficulty, what belies the surface of the water is of equal concern. “You may not be able to see other hazards in large bodies of water, such as large potholes, or debris,” says Morris.
From a distance, flood waters may not appear to be too high or dangerous, but are often deeper and faster flowing than they appear. With severe flooding impacting large areas, harmful chemicals can also enter the water, along with debris and even animals that can cause severe illness.
Even if you are able to drive through a flooded road, you’re still not safe yet. Having so much moisture on your brake pads can seriously impair your ability to brake suddenly.
If you find your car has been sitting in deep water, do not attempt to drive it, as the car’s electrics may have also been compromised impacting critical safety equipment.
It is best to contact your insurer for assistance to navigate the next steps.
What is aquaplaning? How does it happen?
Also referred to as hydroplaning, aquaplaning is when a layer of water on the road builds up between the surface of road and the vehicle’s tyres, causing the tyres to lose grip on the road. Aquaplaning then causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle, including steering, braking, and acceleration.
Aquaplaning, of course, occurs on wet roads, but the risks are exacerbated with tyres that have low tread and speed.
To avoid aquaplaning, keep up to date with your tyre safety, and ensure that they are up to the legal standard for tyre tread depth and pressure.