News from the CRC

water over road.jpg

Roadway flooding
Roadway flooding
Release date
13 Jul 2017
More information:
Nathan Maddock
Senior Communications Officer

How to stop people entering floodwater

People continue to enter floodwater in vehicles and on foot, despite many knowing the risks.

Researchers from the Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC and Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University, analysed the who, when and why of flood fatalities, so they could target information to high-risk groups and hopefully prevent further deaths.

Of the 1,859 deaths due to floods from 1900 to 2015, 79 per cent were male, almost half of whom were attempting to cross a bridge, road, or similar.

“People think they’re in a big car that’s built to drive through floodwaters,” says research leader Dr Katharine Haynes.

“Often, they don’t realise that the road may be washed away, there could be lots of debris in the water, or it’s flowing deeper and faster than it looks.”

Fatalities in vehicles, particularly four-wheel drives, increased sharply during the last 20 years, and a high number occurred when visibility was poor—at twilight or night-time.

“Aside from better education, this highlights the need for structural measures like better signage, lighting and road design, as some people are unaware that they are entering floodwater until its too late,” Katharine says.

Their research is informing the latest safety campaign from the NSW State Emergency Service. New funding from the CRC will also help them investigate the best way to tailor information to target groups.

“A one-size-fits-all risk communication approach doesn’t work,” Katharine says.

“The most effective material is developed with people at risk themselves, so we’re going to work with those groups and put people in a room, give them different sorts of risk communication, run them through realistic disaster scenarios, and see how they behave.”

More news from the CRC

New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
If you're a CRC PhD student or early career researcher, you can win a great cash prize through the CRC Association’s Early Career Researcher Showcase, sponsored by CQUniversity.
Parliament House, Canberra
Key Commonwealth Government representatives were briefed by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researchers recently in Canberra.
Yang Chen
The first round of Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC PhD students have graduated and are sharing their research outcomes with the fire and emergency services sector. They’re joined by recent graduates who began their PhD...
Australian panel for IDDR 2017
Emergency management practitioners and researchers gathered in Sydney last week for a public forum on reducing the impacts of disasters in Australia.
Hurricane Harvey damage. Photo: Daniel Smith
Research continues after a severe Atlantic hurricane season, with Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher Dr Daniel Smith from the Cyclone Testing Station part of an international team investigating the impacts of...
International Day For Disaster Reduction
Sydney to host Australian forum for International Day for Disaster Reduction this Friday 13 October, with speakers covering international, national, state and local perspectives on disaster reduction.
Flooded road in South Australia. Photo: South Australia SES.
Flood warning research by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has been highlighted as one of the top ten science meets business innovations.
Storm surge damage at Ponte Vedra Florida from Hurricane Irma. Photo by Daniel Smith, Cyclone Testing Station.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher Dr Daniel Smith is part of an international team assessing the impacts from Hurricane Irma in Florida.
Dr Marta Yebra at the 2017 Research Forum
With a focus on the science of natural hazards, the papers from the 2017 Research Forum held in Sydney on 4 September are available. Delve into the science in detail, with a majority of research papers available in full.

News archives

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

Explore by keyword