PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The recent flooding on Washington Boulevard is a reminder of how dangerous an automobile can be in a flood, says attorney Alan Perer.
“You’re basically in a floating coffin,” Perer told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Friday.
Perer is the attorney for Christopher Griffith who lost his wife Kimberly and two young daughters trapped in a Chrysler Town & Country mini-van during the Washington Boulevard flood of 2011.
Perer says most people are not getting the right advice.
“Get out immediately. Get out of the side window while you still have power. Get out of your vehicle,” says Perer, emphatically.
“And part of our case that arose out of the flood of 2011 is a failure to warn. We need to warn people. Manufacturers should say, if you find yourself in this situation, get out of the vehicle.”
Too many people, says Perer, think it’s safer to stay inside a car when you a far safer to exit, get on top of the car, or swim to safety.
“It is something that has been largely ignored by the auto industry.”
Perer is critical of the auto industry for failing to design escapable vehicles.
Within a minute of submersion, he notes, “You lose power at some point. You have electric windows, the windows don’t work. The electric door locks don’t work. And when the water is rushing by or has risen or you’re in a body of water, the water pressure outside the car makes it impossible to open the doors.”
Pere says more than 500 people die each year in car flooding accidents, and car manufacturers need to make it easier to escape.
In the meantime, says Perer, play it safe.
Buy one of those hammers that smash the side windows.
And, most importantly, he adds, “You have one minute. Don’t make a cell phone call which most people do. Unfasten your seat belt. Don’t make a cell phone call. Get out. Get out the side window is the safest way to get out.”