In Missouri, the State Emergency Management Agency has found that 40 of 50 flooding deaths from 2015 to 2019 were people who had been in vehicles. Submerged vehicles present a high risk of death for drivers and occupants as these are high-stress situations where drivers might not have intentionally driven into flood water – flash flooding is a quick moving flood that can overtake and sweep away vehicles no matter how heavy they are. It is important for drivers to know the dangers, how to prevent their vehicle from being submerged, and how to escape a vehicle if they are caught in such an unfortunate situation. The car accident attorneys at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. have decades of experience working with victims of car accidents and have a deep understanding of Missouri law, roadways, and hazards.
How Vehicles End Up Underwater
Flooding, whether slow or flash, is a large contributing factor to vehicle submersion. In some instances, drivers make the decision to drive through flood water or venture out during flash flooding warnings without considering the risk of their car being submerged. On the other hand, some are caught in flash flooding unexpectedly, without the opportunity to make the decision to venture out despite warnings. In either situation, flood waters can overtake a vehicle and move it to deeper water or off the road. In inclement weather, the risk of vehicle submersion is great, and drivers must be aware of weather forecasts, just as we do in the winter.
Other than flood waters, careless driving or vehicle malfunctions can result in vehicle submersion. Missouri is known for having many creeks, ponds, lakes, and, of course, rivers. If a driver is distracted or speeding in an area with sharp turns, it is possible for the car to leave the road and end up in one of these bodies of water. Not only will a driver have a high likelihood of injury from the crash, but some bodies of water are deep enough to completely cover a car leaving the driver unable to escape. Vehicle malfunctions are possible causes of this as well if your car’s brakes give out, the acceleration pedal is sticky, or if your steering wheel becomes locked or slowed.
What To Do If Your Vehicle Becomes Submerged
If your car becomes submerged, you must stay calm and attempt to get out immediately. If possible, rolling down your windows will aid in your escape, but, if there is not enough time to do so before the water is too high, breaking one or more windows will help. Many companies sell window breakers in stores and while they can be expensive, they may be the lifesaver you need in one of the worst situations imaginable. Once a window is rolled down or broken, unbuckling seatbelts and helping all occupants through the window is next. It is important to watch for broken glass or obstacles including branches or other debris if a car is caught in a flood. Once out of the car, swim to the nearest area of land or stable structure. Cars can become submerged in seconds, so timing is very important. Keeping a window breaker in an easy-to-reach place, like the glove compartment, can save time from searching for it or risk it being thrown around in the event of a crash. Discussing with family and even having a practice run will be helpful in preparing for the worst scenario.
If you or a loved one have been caught in a submerged vehicle due to another’s negligence, whether from poorly maintained roads or bridges, inadequate signage or flood-prevention measures or following a car accident, contact the attorneys at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. for a free, confidential consultation. TIn the moment of car submersion, you must focus on protecting yourself and other occupants. Once safe, we will take over and advocate on your behalf to hold those accountable for their negligence and stand by your side throughout the process.