POLL: Would you support a flood-related 'stupid motorist law' in your state?

By By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
June 10, 2016, 7:02:38 AM EDT

Thanks to a piece of legislation nicknamed the "stupid motorist law," Arizona drivers who either disobey traffic barricades or who attempt to drive through a roadway covered in high water are liable to pay for any resulting expenses from a rescue.

The law was enacted in 1995 and serves as more of a reminder of what not to do in a flood situation.

Other states have adopted similar laws as well, hoping to prevent motorists from making a fatal mistake.

Earlier this year, Ohio enacted an almost identical law, named the Allan H. Anderson, Jr. Act.

Anderson, a firefighter, was killed in his attempt to rescue two juveniles who ignored road closure signs and drove into a flooded area in 2006. The two juveniles survived. Anderson, a trained diver with 15 years of experience, was 47.

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Just like in Arizona, drivers who ignore road signs are ordered to reimburse the cost of their rescue up to $2,000.

In Texas, drivers can be charged with a misdemeanor for disobeying a "warning sign or barricade [that] has been placed because water is over any portion of a road, street, or highway," the state roadway provision reads.

Pennsylvania passed an act in 2012 that drivers not only may have to pay for their rescue but would also be fined between $250-$500 for ignoring barricades or warning signs.


“This is a major victory for our first-responders,” Rep. Todd Stephens, who proposed the bill, said in a statement after the bill passed. “They are the people placed in danger when drivers ignore temporary barricades and need to be rescued in a flood zone.”

The recent catastrophic flooding in South Carolina served as a reminder that driving across a flooded road is extremely risky, even if the water seems manageable.

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Hundreds of water rescues were performed across the state as historic flooding swept across the region. Flooding killed 17 people statewide.

Roads were closed and residents were implored to stay home, but some who did not heed the warnings found themselves in dangerous situations.

While the Palmetto State has a law that holds drivers accountable for ignoring proper signage, there is no specific law that orders drivers to pay for a water rescue.

Less than 1 inch of water can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle, and most will float in 12 inches of water.

More than 50 percent of all flood-related fatalities in the U.S. are auto-related, according to the National Weather Service.

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