This summer, it seems the generic “hot enough for you?” conversation filler has been replaced by “wet enough for you?” While great at making everything lush and green, this season's rainfall has also made much of the state a flood zone. Lakes and rivers are high, lawns are marshy, and water collects on the roads. In a recent National Weather Service flood advisory for parts of Miami-Dade county, residents were reminded that “excessive runoff from heavy rainfall causes the flooding that affects urban areas, highways, streets, underpasses, and other low-lying spots.”
Don’t try to drive through water on the roadways. The depth of floodwaters can be very easy to misjudge. It takes only six inches of swift moving water to knock a person off balance and two feet to sweep a car off of the road (or to get pulled into the air intake system and stall the engine). Florida Highway Patrol reminds everyone that the safest approach is “Turn Around – Don’t Drown.”
Driving in these conditions can be very dangerous, so no matter where you are headed, keep in mind a few tips for safely navigating wet roads and highways. First and foremost, officials have developed a catchphrase reminding people to “turn around, don't drown.” While you're driving, it's almost impossible to tell how deep a puddle of water is, especially at highway speeds. It's incredibly easy to hydroplane if you're going too fast. The grooves on rubber tires are designed to channel water so that when the road is wet, the tire itself still makes significant contact with the road. Hydroplaning occurs when there is too much water for the tire to handle, causing it to lose traction and resulting in the driver's having trouble steering and braking. When even light rain mixes with oil residue on roads, vehicles become more likely to hydroplane. To avoid this hazardous situation:
- Slow down. High speeds make it difficult for tires to scatter water.
- Avoid driving in the outer lanes where water accumulates.
- Steer clear of puddles and standing water.
- Keep tires properly inflated. Rotate and replace when necessary.
- Drive in a lower gear.
- Don't use cruise control.
- Try to drive in the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of you.
- Avoid hard braking.
- Ease into turns.
Aside from the risk of hydroplaning, another serious risk comes from attempting to drive in water that is simply too deep for your car to navigate. If you find yourself on a street or parking lot unable to drive out of deep water, the best thing to do is immediately turn off the car. Out of panic or concern for a schedule to keep, you may feel inclined to keep trying to drive out of the water, but that is almost definitely going to pull water into your engine and cause it to stall. It will also likely run you $3,000 - $6,000 to repair. If you're driving and your car suddenly stalls from taking on too much water, that also causes obvious risks not only to yourself, your passengers and the vehicle, but to the other motorists on the road. Water can also short-circuit the electronic components in your car, affecting your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, making it virtually impossible for other vehicles on the road, including emergency vehicles, to see you.
It's best not to use your hazard lights unless you are actually stopped on the side of the road or not able to move the vehicle out of a lane. Driving with hazards on can be a confusing signal to other drivers. Obviously, you should also always wear a seatbelt, use your wipers, and drive with your lights on.
We Can Help
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. We are highly experienced in handling flood loss claims and, in many cases, we can do so without cost to you. Fees and expenses are frequently paid by the insurance company, so nothing comes out of your recovery. We can also help individuals who have been injured in vehicle accidents by negligent motorists. We work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a case evaluation form.