Flood Detours: Driving On Unfamiliar Roadways

The Henderson family of Fremont is returning from a trip to Adventureland in Des Moines.

They've spent a lot of time in the car.

"I played some games and I also said how many games I wanted to play," five year-old Abigail said.

The trip was a bit longer due to detours.

"A couple of unexpected things here and there," Will Henderson said. "We had to navigate through the floods up through here all the road closing and that. We had to go about 25 miles out of the way to avoid all the road closures."

And that puts drivers on roads they might not have traveled before.

"I can tell you from experience we're seeing three times the traffic in this particular area than we normally would," Trooper Ken Toms of the Iowa State Patrol said.

Some of that may have resulted in a semi truck carrying paper out of Kansas City, heading north, flipped over at the I-80/I-680 interchange.

That is a well-marked detour route.

"His knowledge of the roadway probably inhibited his advantage of making this intersection so obviously slowing down if you are unfamiliar with the area and route make sure you know where you are going, make sure specifically instead of tying to guess especially when detours are involved you want to take a look at how the detour is routed," Trooper Toms said.

Tow Truck Operator/Owner Dave Lyon has been pulling cars out of the ditch in Pottawattamie County for 32 years. He's seen an increase in business this year.

"They may not be as familiar with this route as they are with their regular one," he said. "It's taking them a little longer and they may be speeding a little bit more than they should.

And if drivers stray from the marked detour routes and try to find their own short cut?

"The (route) may not be marked or show up on their g-p-s and they're getting in to a little unfamiliar territory," he said.

Coupled with a little excessive speed and Lyon said that creates a dangerous situation drivers may not be able to navigate through.

Will Henderson said the best route is probably already marked and it's also the safest option.

"Err on the side of caution, especially when you have your family with you," he said. "Keep the speed limit and pay attention to what's going on around you."

Trooper Toms agrees. He said drivers should stick with the recommended detour routes, especially those driving a truck or pulling a trailer.

He added a lot of traffic is finding itself on roads that are not designed for that much travel and that creates additional safety issues.

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