Regional drivers more likely to ignore flood warning message

ALMOST a third of Queensland drivers cross floodwaters they know they should avoid.

A third of those motorists are from regional areas and 40% of them are four-wheel drive owners.

The most common reason people consider crossing floodwater is they believe their vehicle can handle it.

But a Queensland Fire and Emergency Services online survey has also found the greatest contributing factor to driving through floodwater is local knowledge.

People who 'know' how the roads around their home, or town, flood believe the "If it's flooded, forget it" safety message is for non-locals or people not used to seeing floodwater.

Regional Queensland drivers surveyed ahead of this year's flood safety campaign launch on Sunday revealed they became complacent in their attitude towards flooded roads, believing they would always have the knowledge and skill to reach the other side.

But QFES Ipswich station officer Nathan Chadwick said there was no way of knowing what was under floodwater, nor the speed or depth of the water.

The swiftwater technician said floodwaters could be unstable and dynamic, with the situation changing quickly.

"Every time we have a rain event, without doubt we will have one or two incidents with people driving in floodwater," he said. "I would say swiftwater would be probably be one of the most dangerous types of rescues we attend.
"Some rescues are surprisingly unexciting but when that water is moving fast, it can be quite scary and gets the adrenalin rushing."

Of the 1600 drivers surveyed ahead of this flood season, 36% of men and 23% of women admitted to crossing flooded roads.

About 40% of those who confessed were aged 18-24.

The pressure of getting to work or home, or having somebody waiting at home, were among the more common reasons drivers would consider crossing floodwaters.

But having children in the car made people think twice.
Mr Chadwick said, in his experience people returning at night from work, school, an event or some other activity most often got caught out.

"They're not aware of the depth because it's dark," he said. "As well as that, people in emergency situations tend to take extra risks because they think the risk is worth taking.

i"They often think they need to evacuate but often they would have been safer at home." - APN NEWSDESK

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