Joyless ride

Published 11:12 pm Saturday, September 8, 2007

By Staff
Should the storm in the Atlantic Ocean and southeast of North Carolina intensify to tropical storm strength or become a hurricane, it could strike the Pamlico region and cause damage. But there’s also the chance of damage after the storm passes.
After a hurricane or tropical storm passes through an area, many people like to get in their vehicles and ride around to survey any damage. Doing that can lead to even further damage. Unless a person has a compelling reason to be out in flood waters in the wake of a hurricane or tropical storm, that person should refrain from driving through those flood waters.
Bad experiences with such joy riders damaging properties have resulted in some counties, cities and towns implementing measures to punish people whose joy rides damage private and public properties. In an effort to protect those properties, the City of Washington decided to address the problem several years ago when it became evident that joy riding after hurricanes and tropical storms was aggravating damage already caused by such storms.
Joy riding through flooded roadways in Washington in a manner that creates wakes that could damage property could result in a joy riding driver receiving a ticket for careless and reckless driving from the Washington Police Department. Some drivers enjoy making waves with their vehicles, either not realizing or caring that these waves cause further damage to already flooded yards and buildings along city streets.
This kind of activity causes even more troubles for residents, property owners and merchants already dealing with problems caused by flooded property or buildings. Waves generated by passing vehicles sometimes push water into buildings that otherwise might have remained dry, raise the height of flood damage in buildings that are already flooded, wash away soil in yards and damage shrubbery.
Taking joy rides that cause those types of damage is not something a good neighbor would do, but it happens. And when it happens, the person who caused that damage must be held accountable. The city made the right decision when it enacted an ordinance that punishes people for causing such damage.
What may be a joy ride for someone behind the wheel of a vehicle can turn into an expensive repair job or loss of property for someone else. And the joy rider’s decision to drive through flood waters without regard to others’ property could result in the joy evaporating from his or her trek. That trek could end with a ticket.
A careless and reckless driving citation requires a mandatory court appearance. It is a misdemeanor punishable by as many as six months in prison, up to a $500 fine or both. It produces four points on a driver’s license and four insurance points.
It’s best to avoid driving through flooded streets for other reasons. Don’t drive through flooded streets or bypass barricades on flooded roadways. Streets, roads and bridges may have been washed out by flood waters. Joy riders also may interfere with emergency vehicles, clean-up efforts and repairs such as fixing power lines.
If joy riders don’t care about what may happen to them, they should at least care about what their actions may do to others.
So, the next time a hurricane or major storm leaves flood waters behind in its wake, don’t take a joy ride through flood waters. There’s not much joy in such a ride if it results in more damage or, possibly, loss of life.
That could result in a wake no one wants to see.