Our Opinion: High water calls for heightened awareness

Recent rains have raised water levels on Cole County roadways, which again raises a life-or-death safety reminder.

When water covers a roadway, the admonition from safety officials is “Turn Around — Don’t Drown.”

The advice is not an exaggeration.

If you can’t see the roadway, you can’t know if it has been washed out, leaving deep holes.

And, even if the road surface remains intact, only a few inches of fast-moving water can carry away a vehicle.

Four-wheel-drive pickup trucks and SUVs may fare well on rough terrain, but are no match for the powerful natural force created by rushing water.

The Cole County Public Works Department routinely places warning signs and/or barricades when water tops low-water crossings.

The News Tribune on Thursday published a list of closed roadways to inform motorists and allow them to plan alternate routes.

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s central district also maintains a list of road conditions, available on its website, modot.org/central, or by calling the toll-free number, 888-295-6636.

Because flash flooding may cover a roadway very quickly, safety officials advise motorists not to proceed if a road is covered in flood water, but is not closed by a barricade.

In those circumstances, motorists are asked to notify law enforcement authorities — either municipal police, county sheriff or the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Water-covered roadways are an aggravation and frustration, especially for motorists in a hurry to reach their destination.

But trying to save a few minutes is hardly worth the risk of losing your vehicle — or your life.

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