Influence of road characteristics on flood fatalities in Australia

A. Gissing, M. Tofa, S. Opper, K. Haynes

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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A recent analysis of flood fatalities in Australia identified that 49 percent of flood fatalities were vehicle related (Haynes et al., 2017). In total, some 229 flood fatalities were associated with vehicles between 1960 and 2015 (Haynes et al., 2017).

There has been some effort in recent years to address this issue through educational campaigns. There has, however, been no previous research into how the characteristics of roadways influence the decisions taken, possibility of a vehicle being washed off a roadway and the survivability of people in vehicles that enter floodwater.

This research report outlines research to determine the influence of road characteristics on flood fatalities including road structure type; roadway side barriers; downstream depths adjacent to the roadway; signage; warning systems; lighting; road pavement; road alignment; road grade; speed restrictions; traffic volume; downstream vegetation; ability for a vehicle to be turned around prior to crossing the floodway, causeway or bridge and presence of road side markers and curb and guttering.

The results of this research indicate some road characteristics that are common among sites where motorists have entered floodwaters and fatalities have occurred. These characteristics variously influence the risk that motorists knowingly or unknowingly enter floodwater, the ability of motorists to turn around upon seeing floodwaters, and the likely survivability of entering floodwaters. It is necessary to consider the influence of different road characteristics on the risks posed to motorists during floods. Observations are also made regarding the need to consider the role of road side barricades in increasing safety and to review signage to ensure it is clear and can be readily interpreted.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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