Influence of road characteristics on flood fatalities in Australia

Andrew Gissing*, Simon Opper, Matalena Tofa, Lucinda Coates, John McAneney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


An analysis of published flood fatalities in Australia occurring between 1960 and 2015 revealed that 49% of 229 flood fatalities were vehicle related. After reviewing previous work on vehicle-related flood fatalities, this study examines attributes of roadways that may have influenced driver decisions to enter floodwaters and the survivability of people in vehicles that did so and concludes by discussing policy implications. Characteristics most frequently present were small upstream catchment length that may influence the rate of rise of floodwaters; the absence of roadside barricades; deep flooding immediately adjacent to the roadway; the absence of lighting; dipping road grades that lead floodwaters to increase once a vehicle enters them; the lack of curb and guttering and the inability of motorists to easily turn around. Each of these factors were observed in at least 50% of the cases studied and provide a risk-based means of assessing other sites vulnerable to flooding but where fatalities have not been observed to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-445
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Hazards
Issue number5
Early online date22 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Flood
  • flood fatalities
  • risk management
  • emergency management
  • road safety


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