As New England residents prepare for a stormy end of summer, drivers take to the roads with more care. Consistent rainfall and violent winds can wreak havoc on infrastructure, and erosion can damage roads in unseen ways. Even veteran drivers may have trouble navigating the hidden dangers of New England’s waterlogged roads.

Drivers who exercise caution and know when roads are too dangerous for travel will have more luck avoiding a catastrophic accident this season. The following guidelines can provide insight into safe driving practices for navigating flooded streets.

Rising waters hide dangerous terrain

As rainwater collects in depressions in the land, water eats away at roadway infrastructure. Studies from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that over half of all flood fatalities involve a motor vehicle. Following these tips can help drivers avoid dangerous areas during heavy storms and stay safe:

  • Avoid water-filled potholes: Drivers should avoid potholes whenever they drive, but especially those filled with water. Water erodes the edges of the hole, making it both broader and deeper than it may appear. Going through can pop a car tire or severely damage the wheel well. No one wants to call a tow truck during a storm.
  • Watch for moving water: Do not attempt to drive through visibly flowing water, even if it seems shallow. These small streams may hide dips in the road and be much deeper than initially perceived. Even two feet of moving water carries enough strength to move an entire semi-truck off the road and downstream.
  • Be careful with standing water: Standing water may also be deeper than it seems. Cars driving through may encounter debris that causes structural damage. Deep water will likely flood a vehicle’s engine, totaling the car completely.
  • No hydroplaning: Hydroplaning occurs when a driver attempts to push their vehicle through water quickly. The car tires ride along the surface of the water instead of going down. This unexpected movement can cause a driver to lose control completely, endangering themselves and those around them.

Consider legal counsel for a flood-related accident

Those facing vehicle damage during a flood may have legal recourse available. A local attorney familiar with New Jersey motor vehicle law can assess a person’s case, recommend a course of action and work with difficult insurance policies.