Driving Tips for Spring Rains on Flooded Plains

You may be tempted to try and drive through a flooded roadway this spring. But safety advocates have a simple message: Don’t try it.

It only takes a few centimeters of moving water to sweep away a small vehicle.

“The biggest message we stress with flooded streets is ‘Turn around don’t drown,’” said Chris Vaccaro, public affairs for the National Weather Service. “Whenever there’s flood coverage on the television news they broadcast drivers going through the water, but it’s not a good idea."

“Don’t plow ahead when confronted with water, turn around and take an alternate route.”

One of the most common mistakes? Underestimating the depth of water, according to the National Weather Service.

As little as a 30 centimeters of moving water is all it takes to sweep a small vehicle. It takes half that to knock a person off their feet, Vaccaro said.

Below are some tips from the National Weather Service on how to handle flooded roadways and flash floods:

  • Never drive or walk in floodwaters. As little as 30 centimeters of rushing water can carry away a small vehicle. Moving water that’s less than a meter deep can sweep away most vehicles.
  • Turn around, don’t drown. Motorists are urged not to risk it. Make a U-turn and head for safety.
  • Keep an emergency kit with flares and a flashlight in your trunk. A fully charged cell phone is invaluable in an emergency.


“The simplest things can be so important in an emergency or road breakdown in bad weather. A flashlight. An emergency space-blanket. Simple first-aid items,” said Jason Grubard, marketing manager for DC Safety.