As heavy rains continue to fall across West Virginia, water levels rise. The dips and valleys of The Mountain State’s scenic roadways fill with water, causing damage to the state’s infrastructure. These flooded roads may seem inconvenient but hide dangerous road hazards.
Veteran drivers know that deep water can hide, or cause, any number of problematic road conditions. Combined with bad weather or flooding, cruising through a small puddle could total a vehicle or severely injure the driver.
What lies beneath standing water
Flooding has impacted many communities across the United States, destroying homes, property and families. In studies from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of drowning deaths in a flood occur when motorists attempt to drive through floodwaters. Floods took the lives of 93 people in 2019; 61 of those deaths involved driving.
Drivers may encounter the following road hazards if they attempt to drive their vehicle through a flooded street:
- Running water: Though standing water may seem safe, strong currents may run beneath the surface. Two feet of water can move even the largest vehicles, include work trucks and semis.
- Deep water: Some flooded roads may appear shallow, like a puddle only a few inches deep. These harmless spots of water may have collected in a deep dip in the road, now obscured beneath the surface. Driving through one of these can immediately flood an engine, stranding the driver and potentially totaling the car.
- Potholes: Potholes collect a ton of rain and runoff water that may appear like a harmless puddle. Sitting water can erode the edges of a pothole and create a very dangerous road hazard. Driving through one of these can pop a car’s tire and even damage the wheel well.
- Losing control: Many drivers underestimate the strength of standing water and attempt to barrel through flooded areas. When a car hits these waterlogged areas, the car’s tires slide across the water’s surface in a process called hydroplaning. Without traction on the road, a driver will likely lose complete control during a hydroplane and veer off the road or even into oncoming traffic.
Stay safe and avoid flooded roadways
As the East Coast rains continue to cover West Virginia’s roadways, drivers should avoid flooded streets and risky maneuvers. Those involved in an accident during hazardous conditions can contact a local attorney to assess their case and potentially secure damages.