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Indiana Drivers Should Be On Alert as Flood Season Approaches

Steve Wagner

Synopsis

  • Flood fears across Indiana will continue as spring rain and unpredictable weather patterns move across the Midwest.
  • Hoosiers should be taking extra precautions on wet and drenched roads and know what to do if forced to drive through water to reduce the likelihood of an auto accident that could cause significant injuries to drivers and their passengers.
  • Auto accidents on flooded roads, no matter what type of vehicle, are typically due to driver negligence. Speeding over wet roads can cause a vehicle to hydroplane and collide with other vehicles or worse, cause a deadly crash.
  • For motorists who choose to travel into barricaded flooded areas, it will only take 12 inches of moving water to easily sweep them off the road and into other motorists or onto property.

Wet and Flooded Roadways are Likely Culprits of Spring Auto Accidents

Flooding can happen any time thanks to heavy rains that block drains, fall on poorly maintained roads, and cause rivers to overflow, all things Indiana residents have seen their fair share of already this year. These late winter storms have even forced dozens of roads to close in southern Indiana and prompted Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to issue a disaster emergency because of heavy rainfalls. Additional alerts were placed in 11 counties after officials in northwest Indiana started to monitor the Little Calumet River, which reached levels not seen in a decade.

Although signage, road barriers and even police have been stationed at several flooded locations across the state, the warnings just didn’t resonate with some drivers who still attempted to navigate through flooded streets, creating dangerous water rescues and car accident risks for everyone involved.

So far this year, Jackson County has closed twenty-three roads in a 24-hour period because of flooding dangers to drivers and Jeffersonville followed by closing twenty more roads because cars were being taken into nearby embankments. Sadly, in Crawford County, it was reported that a motorist died after being swept off a road into rushing water.

Even the Biggest, Tallest Vehicles Are Not Safe

Good drivers or those with large trucks and tall vehicles too often believe they can pass safely through flooded roads. But it really doesn’t matter how good a driver believes they are, or how tall or big a vehicle is. All it takes is less than a foot of water to send a driver and their vehicle floating away with the risk of being pushed into other vehicles, onto property or in some cases these drivers will become trapped in their vehicle and drown. In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA):

  • Just 6 inches of moving water will reach the base of most passenger vehicles;
  • 2 feet of water can sweep away your vehicle, even an SUV or truck;
  • Most vehicles will float in just 1 foot of water.
  • Over 50 percent of flood-related drownings are vehicle-related.

The legal team at Wagner Reese wants to take this opportunity to repeat what others have been saying and remind you how truly dangerous it is to drive through flooded areas.

Reducing the Risk of Rainy Season Accidents

You may find yourself in a desperate situation for help if you decide to drive recklessly or haphazardly through drenched or wet roadways. Follow these safe driving cues.

  • If driving on wet roads not yet flooded, turn off cruise control. The presence of water on the roads can encourage cruise control to increase speed.
  • Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you for additional reaction time if something were to happen.
  • Don’t ignore warning signage or barricades blocking a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded street, choose to take an alternate route. Report the area to authorities to help keep the community safe.
  • Never drive through standing water (including water found in parking lots) even though it appears to not be moving.
  • Electric currents can pass through water easily. Avoid driving in water that downed electrical or power lines have fallen in.
  • Slow down. Once water is sitting on the roadway, a hydroplane accident can happen at any time. And there’s no doubt that faster driving speeds raise the odds of having such an incident occur.
  • Avoid panic, don’t be distracted by your phone or other devices, and make courteous driving decisions.

If Forced to Drive Through Water

If you are not able to turn your vehicle around and you have no other choice but to drive through standing water, do your best to estimate the depth of the water and be prepared to call for help if you don’t think you can make it. If you choose to drive through it:

  • Drive slowly and steadily, while paying close attention to your surroundings.
  • Watch for items traveling downstream, like other vehicles or debris that could trap or crash into you if you’re in their path.
  • Your vehicle may stall in the deep water, and your engine may fail causing you to have to abandon your vehicle.
  • If you become trapped in rising water, open the door or roll down the window to get out. If you are unable to get out safely, call 911 or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on higher ground so that they may call for help. Your car may not be able to be saved but your life could be.

Remember that attempting to drive through water may also wreak havoc on your vehicle. Too much water may stall your engine, or your brakes may be too wet and not able to stop as they should. Once out of the water, dry brakes by pressing gently on the pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.

During any season, drivers are faced with many different risks due from weather, but one thing remains them same: we are all relying on one another to keep safe. Our team will continue to write about seasonal driving topics right here on the blog and share tips for what to do if you find yourself involved or injured in a car wreck. Stay in touch with our Facebook page too and tell us what you would like us to write about so you can learn more and stay safe on the roads all year round.

Be a Smarter Driver This Spring

If tragedy strikes and you or someone you love is injured in a wet weather or flood related driving accident, please call the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation. We put decades of experience to work for you, and we won’t collect any fees unless your case is settled or won. Connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information and respond promptly. If you wish to speak with us, please call (888) 204-8440.

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