OK bill would mean penalties for not taking flood barriers seriously

Weather-related accidents kill thousands of people every year. Floods are one danger that many people may underestimate.

Oklahoma is not exactly known for its steady and predictable weather. In fact, this winter season has been typical for Oklahoma due to several storms, some of which turned out deadly. Adverse weather conditions are responsible for a large number of traffic injuries and deaths across the country every year, according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. It is estimated that 23 percent of all accidents are weather-related. Every year, about 6,250 people are killed and more than 480,000 are injured in accidents attributed to the weather.

The dangers caused by floods

When asked what the top cause of weather-related fatalities is, people might think of snow, ice or even fog. However, states Progressive insurance, flash floods actually kill more people across the country than any other weather-related incident. It may be tempting for drivers to think that they are shielded from danger by the body of a large SUV, or by powerful four-wheel drive. However, this is often not the case. It is easy to underestimate the power or depth of floodwater across a roadway, especially for those who are unaccustomed to seeing this type of hazard.

The dangers that drivers may face if they try to drive through a flood include the following:

• Engines that stall in water and do not restart, thereby trapping them

• Being swept off the road, which may occur in as little as 12 inches of water

• Roads that collapse under running water

• Electrocution from toppled power lines

• Submerged objects or large, fast-moving debris

Any of these factors can result in entrapment, drowning, crushing or other life-threatening situations. It is important for drivers to understand that they should never attempt to drive through a flood on the road, no matter how shallow it appears. If they have no choice but to drive across, they should go steadily and slowly and, if possible, observe other vehicles in the area to judge the depth or speed of the moving water.

Penalties introduced by proposed bill

The risk of weather-related accidents involving floods is so severe in Oklahoma that a new bill is being considered to penalize those who tamper with traffic barricades. According to the Southwest Times Record, if the bill is passed, those who ignore a barricade and drive into a flood may face a $1,000 fine, in addition to paying the costs for emergency services. Additionally, it will be a misdemeanor to remove or damage barricades blocking roads that are flooded. For those who ignore barricades while driving minors under the age of 18, a higher fine and jail time may result.

There is also the potential for careless drivers to injure others if they do not observe safety measures while driving in poor weather. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else, it may help to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.