It is that time of year again: Monsoon season. The first big storm of the season kicked off Monday night, and there are chances for even more storms all week, so drivers should be prepared for water on the roadways.
“Water always wins;” that is the phrase that appears at the end of several public service announcements released by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District. They are serving as a warning this monsoon season to never take a risk while on the road.
“The reason we’re saying water always wins is because it does,” said Erin Neff, the public information director for the Clark County Regional Flood Control District. “Flash floods are nature’s number one killer. Here in Las Vegas, more than 30 people have died in the past 30 years in flash flooding, the majority of them in cars.”
Larger vehicles like SUVs, trucks and buses can also be swept away. The new PSAs show how rough the waters can be.
“Any time that water hits 6 inches, you can’t see what’s under it, don’t drive through it,” Neff said.
Every year, it is the same story: Rescue crews saving people stranded in the floodwaters. The Nevada Department of Transportation wants this summer to be different.
“A torrential downpour within minutes that can really change the makeup and the look of the roads,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman with the Nevada Department of Transportation. “If there’s a standing pool of water, don’t take a chance. Turn around, take an alternate route. It’s not worth it.”
Experts say you should also check to make sure your car is working properly, just in case you find yourself driving through the floodwaters.
“The biggest thing that you should check before heading out, as this monsoon season approaches, is your tires,” said Michael Blasky, a spokesman for AAA Nevada.
AAA Nevada says you should also check your brakes and windshield wipers.
If you start to hydroplane: “Don’t just slam on your brakes. Gently ease off your accelerator and steer the vehicle in the direction that it should be going, until you feel the traction regain,” Blasky said.
To avoid any kind of emergency situation, you should always check the forecast.
“If you hear that there’s flash flood watches or thunderstorm warnings, just really be careful,” Neff said.
AAA Nevada also says to avoid cruise control when driving in wet weather, so you can respond quickly if your car loses traction.
Below are more detailed tips from the Nevada Department of Transportation:
One-foot of standing water equals 500 lbs. of lateral force on your vehicle.
Know your car’s limitations. It takes only 6 inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult. Just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
Make sure your car is in good working order, with new wipers, functioning brakes, headlights, and tires. (Take the penny tire test: Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires).
Double the braking distance between vehicles during wet road conditions.
Drive slowly and steadily so you don’t make a bow wave.
Pay attention to barricades, and don’t ignore them by driving past.
Driving through water can damage your vehicle’s electronics.
Bring plenty of water and snacks, required medications, a charged cell phone with car charger, blankets and sturdy shoes in case of an emergency.
Be especially cautious at night. Flood dangers are much more difficult to see in the dark.
Wipers on, headlights on, hazards off. (When not in an actual emergency or stopped on an active road, hazard lights can confuse other drivers and create too many rooms for error, ending with crashes. If you need to slow down, move to the far right-lane when safe.
Don’t blindly follow other cars. Do your best to estimate the depth of the water if you must cross it. Carefully watch other cars travel through, taking note of how far under their car goes. If they get stuck, call for help.
Manhole covers and other roadway debris can get lifted and moved.
If you do get stuck in flood water, it’s usually best to wait in the car and call for help rather than trying to get out. (Flood waters can be contaminated and carry disease).