Driving on flooded roads

Driving on flooded roads 14th November 2014

In autumn and winter, flash floods are not an uncommon occurrence on British roads. A quick downpour of rain can lead to standing water, particularly on rural roads, and flooding, both of which present quite the challenge, even for the most experienced drivers. 

However, many people are unsure of how to deal with these conditions. Some 54 per cent of respondents to an AA survey said that they would drive through moving flood waters. Nearly a third said they would tackle water up to a foot deep, despite experts warning that six inches should be the most that any driver tries to go through. Another 40 per cent would happily follow the example set by the car in front of them.

Did you know that three-quarters of all cars that are caught in flood waters are write offs? If you should happen to drive on flooded roads, make sure you have your vehicle's engine serviced as soon as possible to make sure it is not permanently damaged or at risk of breaking down. 

We look at some of the best tips for driving on flooded roads. 

  • Assess the depth. Never drive through flood water that's more than six-inches deep, as you risk doing severe damage to your car. If you can't ascertain how deep the water is, it's best to err on the side of caution.
  • Drive slowly. If you go too fast through standing water, you can create a bow wave, which puts your engine at risk. Drive slow and steady to maintain the water level. 
  • Wait for oncoming traffic. If you drive through water at the same time as another vehicle, you run the risk of creating waves which could damage both cars. Wait until the water is clear of anyone else before deciding to tackle it. 
  • Test your brakes. As soon as you are out of the water, make sure to test your brakes. These can be compromised if they get flooded, so you need to ascertain that they are working as soon as possible. 
  • Avoid all moving water. Standing water can itself be a hazard to the car, but can be dealt with. However, moving water is dangerous, such as at fallen bridges. It takes less than you think for a car to be swept away, and it's always better to be safe than sorry. 

Posted by Danielle Barge