Its Raining Hazards–Don’t Drive in 6 Inches of Water

April showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. However, April showers also might present drivers across the country with a vexing question – how deep is too deep when it comes to driving through water on the roadway?

According to new survey data released today as part of the Farmers Insurance Seasonal Smarts Digest, one-in-three U.S. motorists (35%) say they are comfortable driving their vehicles through six inches of water*.

A few inches of water may not seem like much when a driver is behind the wheel, but consider this – six inches of water is enough to reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, according to FEMA. Just half a foot of water can, in some situations, cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles or worse – potentially stall in the middle of a flooded street and create a rescue situation for first responders.

“Spring storms, and the flooding and hail they may bring, often hit quickly with little or no warning, which means drivers across the country may be forced into situations where they need to make quick decisions on the road,” said Jim Taylor, head of claims customer experience for Farmers Insurance. “Drivers should always take into consideration alternative routes when faced with flooded streets since there is no way to know the exact depth of the water, as well as all the potential hazards hidden under water, such as downed powerlines.”

As if flooding wasn’t enough of a challenge to prepare for, those living in the central part of the United States also face a significant risk of hail damage during spring. In fact, hail damage accounts for more than half (55%) of all Farmers Comprehensive auto claims filed during spring, with some states like Texas and Colorado seeing more than two-thirds of each state’s comprehensive auto claims tied to hail each spring.

While there may be no single action capable of fending off every challenge that blooms in the spring, motorists can consider the following practical tips as we head into the stormy months ahead, according to Taylor:

On the Road

  • Park with care. Hail never fails to make an impact in the spring. If you don’t live or work in areas with a garage, consider parking near large buildings or under secure structures that may provide some shelter if there’s even a hint of hail in the forecast. Alternatively, you can purchase a car blanket designed to help protect your car from hail, or similar cover, if you’re short on options for covered parking.
  • Be flexible. If severe weather is in the forecast, consider making use of public transportation options, or call a ride share or taxi service for door-to-door transit — whatever alternative you choose, make sure to park your vehicle in a secure, covered location to help prevent damage.
  • Try paintless repair. No matter how cautious you are, there is no controlling Mother Nature. If you find yourself (or just your vehicle) caught in a hailstorm, you may benefit from paintless dent repair.
  • Call it quits. If you find yourself caught in a severe storm while on the road, be it wind, hail, rain or otherwise, consider making a stop to wait it out. Look for a safe opportunity to pull into a parking lot, or a safe distance from the main road, and remain in your car until the worst is over and visibility returns.
  • Watch out for water features. Whether the result of snowmelt or a healthy rainstorm, water can accumulate quickly and creates numerous risks for drivers, including the potential to encounter downed power lines with an active electrical charge, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If you’re heading downhill, pay close attention to any standing water that waits ahead, it might be deeper than it appears.
  • When in doubt, take another route. Due to the potential hazards caused by flooded roads, take caution on every route and know when you may find yourself near a drainage channel or underpass, where flash flooding can occur at any time. If you have reason to think you might encounter a problem, make a detour.
  • Beware the potholes. Potholes can crop up in no time and can be easily concealed by water following a storm. Slow down to give yourself time to identify and avoid these potentially dangerous little craters.