Top tips on how to drive safely in floods

posted on Nov 28 2012 by Sam Jones

Top tips on how to drive safely in floods

Heavy rain over the weekend caused flooding throughout the UK and wreaked havoc for thousands of motorists not used to driving in such dangerous conditions. Even the most experienced drivers with local knowledge on their side were caught out. So now seems more an appropriate time than ever to share some top tips for driving during floods.

Be prepared!
The first tip is simple logic, preparation. This past weekend showed how suddenly floods can appear after heavy downpours. Check weather forecasts and traffic news sources to find out how badly the wet conditions have affected your route. Government sources at the Met Office and Highways Agency are likely to be the most reliable. This will allow you to recognise which roads have been affected by the flooding and need to be avoided. Effectively planning your route will reduce the risk of you coming into trouble. A rule of thumb is to stick to main roads wherever possible.

However, there may be times when avoiding affected roads is impossible so you need to ensure your car is suitably prepared. Poor visibility will come with heavy rain so clean windows and headlights are a must. Also make sure your tyres are properly inflated to help deal with the hazardous conditions.

Ensure your mobile is fully charged and once youre ready to embark on your journey, take the time to inform friends and family of your planned route and what time you expect to arrive.

Change your driving style!
We all know that driving in the wet requires special care and attention. Braking distances are doubled so we need more time and space to react to things happening ahead of us. When negotiating standing water, drivers run the risk of aquaplaning. This is when the car loses contact with the road due to a layer of water causing reduced control. Those who have experienced this will know just how terrifying and dangerous it is.

Driving steadily and slowly in a low gear with reasonably high revs will help prevent aquaplaning, as will remembering that floodwater tends to be deepest closer to the kerb. Staying to the centre of the road when possible will give you better control over your car. However, if your car does begin to aquaplane it is important to remain calm, slowly lift off the throttle and do not steer or brake aggressively.

If you dont know how deep the water is, dont drive into it! Only six inches of water is needed to reach the bottom of most passenger cars. This runs the risk of water being washed into the air intake or being sucked into the exhaust, causing the car to stall. Also, avoid driving through water if there is oncoming traffic which may cause waves to flood your engine.

In case of a breakdown
If you are unfortunate enough to breakdown, put your hazard lights on and, if possible, keep your car off the road where it could block traffic or cause a collision. Do not open your bonnet as getting your mechanics wet will only make things worse. Use your fully charged mobile, or a nearby emergency phone, to call for help.

So, the next time the nations roads are hit by flash floods you will all hopefully remember these top tips!

Drive safe everyone