Dangers far outweigh potential benefits of driving through a flooded road

Just 12 inches of water can carry away small cars
Why you should never drive through flooded roads
Posted at 12:41 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2017-11-06 05:40:33-05

Editor's note: This story originally published in August 2016. But the safety information is timeless.

Strong to severe storms left many streets flooded again Monday morning. This is why you should never drive through them.

With Thursday's sunshine in Cincinnati, the weather seems to finally be letting up after a week of torrential downpours, flash floods and even a tornado hit the Tri-State. 

As cameras rolled live Wednesday from Chopper 9 over Adams County, a pickup truck pushed through a flooded roadway so inundated that guardrails couldn't even be seen over the standing flood waters. Watch WCPO meteorologist Jennifer Ketchmark's warning to drivers in the video player above.

More deaths occur each year due to flooding than any other thunderstorm-related hazard, according to the National Weather Service. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters.

It's easy to underestimate the force and power of water. The NWS says a mere six inches of fast-moving flood water is enough to knock over a full-grown adult and that just one foot of rushing water can carry away a small car. Two feet of rushing water is forceful enough to float away almost any SUV or pickup truck.

"OK, I get it," you might say. "Rushing water is dangerous, but as long as the water isn't moving, I can plow right through?"


Standing water over roadways can also harbor hidden dangers such as sharp objects, live electrical wires or chemicals. A huge chunk of S.R. 785 in Highland County washed away in Wednesday's heavy storms when a culvert collapsed with little warning. If that were to happen in an area covered with flood waters, how would you know whether the road even exists below the surface? Murky floodwaters may be much deeper than they appear.

Besides the danger to life and limb, driving through water may stall your engine and cause irreparable damage when you try to restart your car's engine. I don't know about you, but the dread I feel when even thinking about dealing with any insurance company representatives would be enough to convince me not to take a chance.

Enough of my preaching. Just don't do it. Whether you're running late to work, you need to pick up your kids from school or maybe a detour would take you miles out of the way, the dangers far outweigh the potential benefits of driving through a flooded roadway.