December 5, 2022


Let's Talk Car

forming a Plan B can stop people driving into floodwaters


Queensland people are struggling with nonetheless yet another arduous clean-up immediately after floods inundated roads and cities past week.

In the latest La Niña period, from November 2021 to current, at the very least 41 people today have died (which include three missing presumed dead) from floods throughout south-east Queensland, northern New South Wales, Bigger Sydney, and Victoria. Numerous concerned selections to enter floodwater, often in vehicles.

Certainly, driving into floodwater is the top cause of flood-connected death. Regardless of media strategies – these kinds of as Queensland’s “If It’s Flooded, Neglect It” commercials – men and women continue on to enter the unpredictable water, risking their lives and the lives of their rescuers.

Our research exploring good reasons why persons drive into and steer clear of driving into floodwater has presented comprehensive insights into this behaviour. Acquiring a Approach B could be the change involving lifestyle and loss of life in these circumstances.

Queensland’s marketing campaign to cease drivers moving into floodwaters.

Why people today drive on flooded streets

We surveyed people today who experienced earlier pushed into floodwaters for our study. We identified a lot of motorists accept the potential risks affiliated with entering floodwaters, nevertheless several discover conditions wherever they imagine it’s safe and sound to do so.

But only a modest mistake in judgement can result in tragedy. Drinking water can stream more quickly than expected, rise speedily, and roads can be washed away, but not seen less than murky floodwater. In point, water can go rapid more than enough to strip bitumen from streets and harm bridges.

Read through much more:
Why do people today try out to generate by means of floodwater or depart it much too late to flee? Psychology features some responses

A small car can float in just 15 centimetres of floodwater. The report-breaking floods in Lismore before this year observed flood waters peak at 14.4 metres, increased than the town’s levees. Risky floodwaters can be professional even all through minor flooding and have been prevalent in recent months.

We realized quite a few of the motives individuals chose to drive into floodwaters have been centered on emotion tension. Pressure to get to function, school, or dwelling to spouse and children or animals. Pressure from passengers in the automobile. Or tension from other motorists on the road.

As one particular respondent claimed:

I noticed, this is going to seem dreadful, I noticed indicators up stating the highway was shut. But there had been cars, four-wheel-drives coming towards me

I believed ‘oh I really should switch all-around, I should really turn around’. But I was panicking about getting late for perform […] And when I observed four-wheel-drives coming to me I believed, ‘okay I can do this’.

An additional claimed:

It was generally the stress […] to get there and lecture. The foolish point is as soon as I acquired through [the floodwater], persons had been indicating [my workplace] was out of energy and totally flooded in there and they were cancelling the lecture anyway.

Floodwaters a short while ago slash off roads in and all-around Ipswich, Queensland.
AAP Impression/Russell Freeman

What we discovered

Our analysis from 2021 was done with the Point out Emergency Provider in Newcastle, New South Wales – an region vulnerable to regular flooding. It showed promising effects for producing options with “if/then” eventualities in spot. In other terms if you were being to be in a specific scenario or a danger had been to arise, then what would you do?

Producing substitute plans may end drivers from remaining confronted with a predicament where by they come to feel they want to push into floodwaters. We experimentally examined if/then strategies in Newcastle working with two situations:

  1. you have a journey planned but receive an warn to possible reasonable or key flooding in Newcastle right before you have started out driving

  2. you strategy a flooded portion of road, and you are currently being pressured by other cars and trucks to generate into the floodwater.

Drivers can come to feel strain to enter floodwaters.
AAP Image/Jason O’Brien

For situation 1, an illustration if/then system was: “If its time to depart work and I obtain an notify for average or key flooding then I will keep at operate till it is risk-free for me to move forward.”

For situation 2, an case in point if/then strategy was: “If cars and trucks at the rear of me are pressuring me to drive via floodwater, then I will turn my hazards on and allow them move, then flip about.”

Immediately after an workout exploring these scenarios with study respondents, men and women described becoming a lot more keen to stay set until the menace had passed for situation 1, and a lot less willing to generate into floodwater after experience pressured from other motorists for circumstance 2.

Forming your own Approach B

Our results present the worth of getting a thorough if/then system – a Prepare B – for unique eventualities, as it can decrease your possibilities of participating in risky, likely everyday living-threatening driving in the course of floods.

Driving into floodwaters not only set you in threat, but rescuers.
AAP Graphic/Darren England

Your Approach B examples may perhaps incorporate:

  • choosing up children early from faculty or working day care

  • permitting workers to leave early if flooding is predicted or work from dwelling

  • realizing alternate routes should really your supposed route be flooded

  • planning to have risk-free different behaviours, regardless of pressures to push by.

Reinforcing your Program B is crucial to its success when faced with needing to make a swift conclusion in the moment.

We motivate folks to formulate their programs for quite a few scenarios, put these plans in writing, and revisit them often by submitting them on the fridge and in the car or truck.

Read through extra:
In a 12 months of unlimited floods, why isn’t disaster governance entrance and centre in the election marketing campaign?

It’s also a good concept to verbally connect your plan to considerable other folks, this kind of as close friends, loved ones and perform colleagues and companies, as an more layer of intent to solidify your plan really should flooding hit.

With Queensland in the grips of however a different flood crisis and La Niña predicted to last by way of May, and likely into Wintertime, more extraordinary rainfall and flooded streets really should be envisioned.

Forming your Plan B now just may well aid you make safer choices, ought to the worst come about.


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