Over recent years the UK has encountered much heavier rainfall than we were once accustomed to. Global warming has been blamed for changes in weather across the whole world, causing droughts, flooding and other extreme weather conditions. News stories of areas across the country where rivers have burst their banks and whole town have found themselves flooded out are becoming more common, not only during the winter months but also in the summer.

It is imperative that as a driver you know how to navigate flooded roads to keep yourself and your car safe from harm. UKDPF have put together some points to consider when faced with a journey in heavy rain when you may encounter a flooded road situation.

Is Your Journey Necessary?

If you have not yet set out you may have the option to perhaps delay your journey, but even with the best planning it can be easy to get caught out as torrential rain can fall without warning, quickly causing problems.

Kill Your Speed

When rain is heavy, water takes time to disperse from the road surface so drop your speed. If you travel too fast your tyres could lose contact with the road making your vehicle impossible to steer, possibly causing the vehicle to hydroplane out of control.

Stop & Think

When driving and approaching a flooded road it is important that you assess the situation. Don’t be tempted to drive through the water until you have established how deep it is and how swiftly the water is moving. If the road is not visible it may be advisable to seek another route. Water is powerful and can easily move a vehicle or take you off your feet.

Don’t be a Sheep

If you see other vehicles attempting to drive through a flooded area, wait and watch, don’t just follow. The cars in front may get stuck and you do not want to join them. Too many vehicles travelling together will also create a wash which may allow the water to enter your engine. If a vehicle similar to the size and height of your own makes it through you may be okay, but if in any doubt it’s better to not risk trying.

Know your Vehicle

Knowing your vehicle is crucial, only then can you gauge your chances of driving through the water without risk. If you are in a taller vehicle with good ground clearance you are obviously in a better place than a low sports model.

Slow and Steady

If you feel you can safely drive through the flood it’s important to take it slowly.  Use first or second gear to keep steady and prevent water from splashing up into your exhaust and engine. If water finds its way into your engine it can cause a lot of damage and can be very expensive to repair. It is important to keep moving and not stop in the water as consistent revs will keep the water from entering the exhaust system. Always let the vehicle in front clear the flooded area so that you will not have to stop.

Keep in the Centre of the Road

Staying in the centre of the road usually means you are at the highest point of so it may not be quite as deep. There is also less chance of hitting any hidden obstacles like lifted drain covers if you stay more central on the road.

On the Other Side

When you have left the floodwater do not accelerate too quickly, keep your speed down until you have tested your brakes and made sure they are clear of water and working properly.

Are you covered by Insurance?

It can take only an eggcup full of water to damage your engine, so if you are considering driving on a flooded road, please be aware that the cost of repairs could be high. Most comprehensive insurance will cover you for the damage but may not do so if they feel you were negligent in your actions and took an unnecessary risk.

Safety First

It’s worth noting that the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society) states that 30cm of water can knock a person off their feet and less than 60cm will float a car, so the risk to life is a real possibility in a flood situation.