Floridians are certainly no strangers to tropical storms and the corresponding safety hazards they bring in their wake. Tropical Storm Eta has caused massive flooding throughout South Florida, making our roads incredibly dangerous to navigate. In some cases, the roads have become impassable altogether. We at Willis Law want to remind you of how to stay safe—especially when it comes to driving. Generally speaking, we advise you to stock up on your essentials and stay home! Just six inches of water on the road is enough to hit the bottom of most vehicles, flooding your exhaust and leaving you, quite literally, stuck in the mud. But we know that sometimes, life happens; and you find yourself in a situation where driving cannot be avoided. If you find yourself driving through standing water in the middle of one of Florida’s signature storms, here’s what to do to stay as safe as possible:
- Be Careful and Stay Focused. This is especially true at night, when a driver might easily confuse street flooding for a canal. Go slow, stay vigilant. Turn your phone off and keep the music down. Nothing is more important than your safety.
- Get to The Eye of the Storm. We know that the middle of the storm is where it is, paradoxically, the calmest. The same goes for a flooded road. Experts recommend driving down the middle where the water will be the shallowest creating a safer situation.
- Single File. Because you’re abandoning the general rules of the road, take it upon yourself to create a single lane behind your fellow drivers; this is much safer, and more considerate, than driving past—and splashing them—in the process. No one wants that! Take turns with other cars on the road, it helps everyone to stay safe.
- Go Slow. And when we say slow, we mean really slow. A turtle-like, glacial pace of 1-2 MPH upon entering the water and then 3-4 MPH to avoid engine flooding thereafter. This is especially true if you have to cross water. Going slow helps you to retain control over the road.
- Keep Your Gears Low. If you have an automatic car, be sure to keep it within the first and second gears. Keep your foot on the gas at all times and use your break to regulate your speed. No Cruise Control here! After you make it through the water, dry your breaks by tapping them lightly throughout your drive. You don’t want to spin out!
- Avoid Moving Water. Always. If you encounter moving water, ask yourself: could I cross this on foot? If the answer is a resounding no, you don’t want to cross it with your car either. All it takes is two feet of water to sweep away your car, and it takes less than one foot of water to cause it to float.
- Purchase an emergency tool. We also recommend that if you haven’t already, purchase a window punch/seatbelt cutter for your car. This inexpensive tool will allow you to free yourself if your car doors jam, or if your vehicle starts to float. You can also rescue someone else who is trapped inside of their car. We highly encourage everyone to purchase one and have it in the car at all times—storm or otherwise—to remain prepared for emergencies and severe weather changes. If things turn for the worst, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can break yourself, or another, out of the vehicle.
Have you been injured in a car accident, and want to know your legal rights? Please reach out to us at 561-599-7300 or complete our contact form. We offer no-cost consultations and only get paid when we recover funds for you.