Year: 2017

Every year floods cause enormous damage and loss of life on a global scale. A  detailed analysis of flood fatalities in Australia by Haynes et al. (2016) noted that 1,859 people have died in floods since 1900, more than any other type of natural disaster, including bushfire.

The study noted that while flood fatality rates are generally falling per capita, the number of fatalities that occurred in vehicles, particularly four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles has increased in the last fifteen years.

It is clear from this brief overview that there is a need for an understanding of the mechanisms by which vehicles become unstable in floodwaters. In a world first, the flow vulnerability thresholds for two vehicles were tested at full scale in a specially configured tow tank at the UNSW Water Research Laboratory. We are pleased to make the results of this research available.

The research testing and analysis described in our report aims to improve the knowledge and information available describing the vulnerability of vehicles as they enter floodwaters and quantify the flow conditions that might cause vehicles to become vulnerable to being washed away.

Please contact:

Toby Tucker | Principal Engineer | UNSW


Smith, G P, Modra, B D, Tucker, T A and Cox, R J (2017) "Vehicle stability testing for flood flows" WRL Technical Report 2017/07 May