AAA: Avoid flooded roads as Isaias heads our way

aaaAAA is reminding drivers of the dangerous conditions coming in the days ahead as Tropical Storm Isaias makes its way up the East Coast.

Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a State of Emergency ahead of the storm, and Flash Flood Watches are in effect for many communities, warning ahead of time of the possibility of rapid rising of rivers and creeks and flooding in low-lying and poor draining areas.

The National Weather Service data shows that flash flooding is the number one storm related killer in the U.S. and nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related.

“It only takes six inches of water to reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles and cause a loss of control,” said Morgan Dean, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA. “At times, it may be difficult for drivers to know the depth of a flooded roadway, especially at night.  The best advice is to stay off the roads during the weather event. ”

AAA provides the following wet weather driving tips:

Do not attempt to cross any standing or moving water that looks more than a few inches deep:  It does not take much water to cause a car’s engine to stall, leaving motorists stranded.  As little as six inches of water on a road can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Think of The National Weather Service’s Warning “Turn around, Don’t Drown.” 

Avoid common high water areas: Stay away from bridges and roads that are known to flood. If the roadway has been flooded, take a detour – floodwaters can be deceptively strong

Slow down/Avoid hydroplaning: Hydroplaning occurs as speed increases and water between the tires and the road builds up to the point that car tires begin to ride on a thin film of water. To reduce chances of hydroplaning, slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.

Don’t be SUV overconfident: Drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles must remember that they are not immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces. SUVs are just as likely to lose traction as any other vehicle.

Do not use cruise control: Avoid using cruise control.  This will allow you more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Be a follower: Driving in the tracks of other vehicles can improve traction and help avoid hydroplaning.

Triple following distances: Rain decreases visibility and increases needed stopping distances. Normal dry pavement following distances (2-3 seconds) should be increased to 8 seconds when driving on slippery surfaces.

Regaining control in a skid: Effective skid-control maneuvers and a calm approach will help you regain control. If the rear wheels lose traction, look and steer where you want the vehicle to go and do not slam on the brakes.  When the rear wheels stop skidding, continue to steer to avoid a rear-wheel skid in the opposite direction.

Be prepared. Carry a cell phone and make sure it is charged. AAA members can dial 1-800-AAA-HELP for emergency road service.

Be aware of COVID-19. Not only do you need to worry about threats from the storm, you must also be prepared to protect yourself from Coronavirus.  Have a spare mask and extra hand sanitizer with you in case you get stranded in your vehicle and have to seek shelter.

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