Friday, December 12, 2014

Dangerous River Crossings

Image courtesy of Land Rover
River crossings can be pretty dangerous, especially if you don't know what you're doing. I've crossed countless rivers in vehicles, but fortunately none of those instances involved some reckless moron who doesn't understand the basic tenets of physics.

No matter how big a vehicle is, it can become a boat in a river if the current is strong enough. This includes buses that are loaded full of people. If you see white caps in the water, it's too strong and you should find a safer spot to cross. Case in point:

You can read about the details of this unfortunate accident by clicking here, but basically people were hurt and two little girls died.

Locally, there was a family that several years ago tried to cross a raging river after a storm. The water was so bad that the father told everyone to unbelt before he attempted the crossing, just in case they needed to swim. The mom and several of the kids drowned. The takeaway: if you think a river crossing is dangerous, don't even try it.

Before you cross a river, you need to have a plan. Usually, it's best to cross where others have plenty of times before, that way you don't get in over your head, literally. Test out the depth of the river, check out what the bed is made of (if possible) and try to see if there is a powerful undercurrent. Plan out which way you will go in the water, and exactly where you will exit on the other side. This is why:

Once you're in the water, you need to just drive. If the water is high enough to reach your grille or even the hood, you have to drive fast enough to push out a wake that is about three feet ahead of the SUV. When you exit, you need to do the same thing as climbing a steep hill, with a good run up to the base, then letting off the throttle a little as you crest so you don't launch into the air.

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