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Driving through floods

With the prospect of another wet winter ahead of us, there will inevitably be floods on our roads. So what are the dangers of floods, and what should you do to reduce the risks to your car, and more importantly, to yourself?

The dangers of floods

A flooded road may not seem that dangerous, but you’d be surprised at just how little water it takes to cause big problems, especially if that water is moving. According to the AA:

  • Just 25ml of water in your engine can cause permanent damage
  • Just 6” of moving water can knock you off your feet
  • Just 12” of moving water can move your car
  • Just 2ft of moving water can float your car away completely

Shockingly, in a third of all UK drowning deaths, the victim is in their car.

How to approach floods

If you come to a flooded section of road, the best advice is to turn around and find an alternative route. Even if you know the road well, the water may have caused unseen damage and potholes that could catch you out.

If you can’t go back, then it’s worth waiting a few minutes to watch other vehicles tackle the flood. This will show you how deep it really is and the best route through the water. If the water is more than six inches deep, or four inches if it is flowing, then don’t risk it. Whatever the inconvenience of not completing your trip, it’s nothing compared to the inconvenience of losing your car to water damage, and certainly not worth risking your life for.

Driving through the flood

If you do decide to go ahead, go very slowly – just 3 or 4 miles per hour at most. Any faster and you risk forcing water into your engine. What’s more, you also risk aquaplaning, where water gets between your tyres and the road, giving you no grip and no control

Stay in a low gear and keep your revs up (drop your clutch and rev the engine if necessary to avoid speeding up). This will stop water getting into your exhaust and damaging your catalytic converter.

Remember to stay slow all the way, and not accelerate until you are well clear of the water.

After driving through a flood

It is important to dry your brakes by applying them gently as soon as possible after driving through a flood. Don’t wait until you need them and find that they are compromised by water.

Floods are not fun!

It may look spectacular to drive through a flooded section of road, spraying everything and everybody, but this is not only dangerous, it is also illegal. You could get between three and nine points on your licence, plus a hefty fine, if you are convicted of driving without due consideration for other road users or pedestrians.

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