UNSW Engineers demonstrate the dangers of floodwaters

UNSW Engineers demonstrate the dangers of floodwaters

Australia’s weather conditions can create extremely dangerous situations for drivers. Too many lives are lost as a result of cars being washed away by currents. As a world first, UNSW engineers have conducted a range of tests with real, life-size cars. 

In anticipation of another major storm likely to hit eastern Australia on Sunday, engineers at the UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory demonstrated how easily cars can be washed away by even the smallest currents – turning the crossing of floodwaters into a dangerous life-threatening decision.

Today UNSW engineers flooded a large tank containing a Nissan Patrol 4WD. They showed how it becomes buoyant and uncontrollable and able to be pushed by hand, or dragged along by even the smallest current.

The danger that flood waters cause is dependent on the depth of the floodplain, and the speed at which the water travels. Many people don’t understand the risks involved in crossing floodwaters in standard vehicles, and underestimate the risks of shallow and slow moving water flows. In slow moving flows, small cars can become buoyant in depths as shallow as 0.3m, and drivers can lose control of their vehicle!

The demonstration showed drivers just how dangerous it is to try to cross floodwaters, in an effort to save lives in the days ahead. The Bureau of Meteorology says another East Coast Low is likely this weekend, bringing heavy rainfall and damaging winds from Queensland to Tasmania, so drivers need to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks of driving a vehicle in these weather conditions.

The test results are yet to be published, but considering the number of deaths from flooded cars recently, UNSW and its partners – the NSW State Emergency Service, the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and IAG insurance group – are keen to get the message out: don’t drive through floodwaters! 

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