Motorist behaviour during the 2015 Shoalhaven floods

Andrew Gissing, Katharine Haynes, Lucinda Coates, Chas Keys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


People entering floodwaters by vehicle constitutes a major cause of flood fatalities in Australia and globally. Over the 20 years to 2014, 81 people have died attempting to drive through floodwaters. These comprise 43 per cent of all flood fatalities for this period. Despite Australian emergency services agencies mounting behavioural change campaigns and urging people not to enter floodwater, the behaviour persists. This paper draws on fieldwork carried out during flooding in the Shoalhaven region of NSW, Australia, in August 2015 to examine the effectiveness of the current combination of warnings, education and road signage to stop motorists entering floodwater. The fieldwork identified that 84 per cent of drivers at a monitored site, notably males and fourwheel- drive (4WD) vehicles, dismissed road closure signs and drove into floodwater. It is plain that further work is needed to reduce the frequency of motorists entering floodwater. This requires the development of a holistic approach including education, regulation and engineering measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Emergency Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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