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HomeNewsTennessee Highway Patrol Urge Motorists to Watch Out for Flood Waters

Tennessee Highway Patrol Urge Motorists to Watch Out for Flood Waters

Turn Around Don’t Drown®

The Tennessee Highway Patrol LogoNashville, TN – Hard on the heels of the flood waters that swamped Middle Tennessee just over a year ago, heavy rains again saturate a large portion of the state. Due to above normal water levels and the high potential for flooding, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is urging all motorists to avoid standing water on roadways…“Turn Around Don’t Drown®.” 

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), annually, more deaths are caused by flooding than any other severe weather-related hazard. Preliminary data from NWS indicate there were 22 flood casualties in Tennessee in 2010. Of those 22 deaths, eight of those were by vehicle.

When Flooded Turn Around Don't Drown

“Motorists must be smart and take extra precautions when driving in wet, rainy, and flooding conditions,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “Drivers should adjust their speed accordingly, and avoid driving through flooded areas by any means necessary.”

In Tennessee, it is against the law to drive around a barricade or flood warning sign. According to TCA 55-10-205 (c)(1), any driver who knowingly ignores a clearly visible and adequate flood warning sign or blockade and drives into a road area that is actually flooded is committing reckless driving. In addition to fines, the court may order the driver to pay restitution for the cost associated with any rescue efforts related to the violation.

Flash floods can come rapidly and can occur within a few minutes of excessive rainfall. However, most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided.

THP offers these reminders to drivers:

  • Do not drive through flooded areas.  If you come across a flooded road, turn around and find another route to your destination.  Do not drive around barricades.
  • Don’t try to cross flooded roads where the water appears to be shallow.  Water hides dips in the road.  Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water.
  • If your car stalls, abandon it and climb to higher ground. Wait for the waters to subside.
  • One foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, causing drivers to lose control of the car or possible stalling.
  • Two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles, including pick-up trucks and SUVs.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Sources: FEMA.gov, NOAA.gov

The Centers for Disease Control report that the most common cause of flood-related deaths is drowning in the United States. More than half of flood-related drowning occurs when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood waters. In the United States, flash and river floods claimed 56 lives in 2009, down from 82 in 2008. Of the 56 deaths, 33 (59 percent) were caught in a vehicle other than a boat, 10 (18 percent) were swept away by flood waters, and 11 (20 percent) died of unidentified causes. (Source NOAA)

Since 1996, over 400,000 crashes have occurred in Tennessee in the rain. Drivers who may need assistance while traveling in Tennessee can dial *THP (*847) from their cell phone and will be automatically connected to the nearest THP communications dispatch office.

About The Tennessee Department of Safety

The Tennessee Department of Safety’s (www.TN.Gov/Safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.


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