After a spate of high potential incidents associated with light vehicles attempting to cross flooded roads and waterways, the Queensland Land Transport Working Group (LTWG) concluded they needed to act quickly to help people make better judgements and decisions regarding crossing flooded water.

Driving across running water is a dangerous activity. Did you know that between 2001 and 2017, 96 people died in Australia trying to drive through floodwater, and hundreds more were rescued from their vehicles?  The reason why is that people consistently underestimate the force of moving water, and overestimate the ability of their vehicle to withstand these forces.

Incidents associated with light vehicles attempting to cross flooded roads and waterways have occurred in the recent past in the oil and gas industry and the most recent Learning Event Bulletin issued by Safer Together was about exactly this type of incident event.

The investigations of these incidents concluded that all the concerned parties had some sort of guidance for crossing flooded water, but the details differed from one company to the next. Along with the government publicised advice of “If It’s Flooded, Turn Back”, it became obvious that the drivers of the vehicles and their passenger were in a position of confusion when it came to making sound judgements with regards to crossing flooded water.

The initial conversation in the Qld Land Transport Working Group (LTWG) led to further discussion on the various guidance that is provided by several different companies on the topic of light vehicle water crossings and resulted in a decision to consolidate this guidance, together with technical information from the motoring industry and various papers written on the subject of vehicles crossing flooded waterways. A project team was quickly formed, materials developed, and the materials subsequently endorsed by the members of the LTWG and approved by the Qld Safety Leaders Group for release to share with member companies of Safer Together. 

The result was an agreed, industry accepted Water Crossing for Light Vehicles Guideline that balanced the safety of our industry’s people and the desire to get the job done with a practical set of instructions to enable individuals in the field to assess a water crossing and then decide if it is safe to continue or not.

On 25 June the LTWG hosted a Lunch & Learn webinar to explain why the Guideline was developed, how it is intended to be used, and to provide an opportunity for member companies to make any comments or  suggestions before it was published. The live-streamed event had more than 60 attendees logging in on the day, and many of those attendees were joined in meeting rooms by their co-workers. A full recording of the webinar is available free of charge to Safer Together member companies to view online – click here.  

The Guideline, together with a suite of support materials (toolbox package; reference card; FAQs), are available on the Safer Together website – click here.

The Guideline contains the technical information and decision-making process to help your people in the field, in times of flood and indecision, to make the right choice.  Member companies are encouraged to use the materials provided, hold toolbox talks and raise the awareness of their teams of the dangers of crossing flooded water without the right consideration of water depth, water speed and vehicle capability.

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