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Driving in Heavy Rain and Floods

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be very dangerous, stopping distances increase dramatically, visibility is severely impaired and standing water increases the chance of your vehicle aquaplaning.

Before you leave

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  • Consider whether your journey is essential. If not, can it be delayed until after the rain has subsided?
  • Plan your journey in advance, taking care to avoid areas which are prone to flooding, and factoring in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion.
  • Check your vehicle; ensure that your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional and replace if necessary. Check that all lights, heaters and demisters are operating effectively.
  • Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up-to-date with road closures, flooding and forecasts.
  • Double the distance you leave between your car and the car in front of you, to account for greater stopping distances.
  • Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily.
  • Driving too fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road.  If your steering suddenly feels light you could be aquaplaning. To regain grip, ease off the accelerator, do not brake and allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again.
  • Be considerate to other road users and try not to spray pedestrians and cyclists as you drive through water.
  • Look out for large or fast-moving vehicles creating spray which reduces visibility.
  • Avoid driving through floodwater and never attempt to cross if you don’t know how deep the water is, less than 60cm of standing water will float many cars.
  • Do not try to cross fast moving water at flooded fords, overtopped bridges or flooded roads only 30cm of flowing water could move a car off a road.
  • Even if the water level is not excessive the road beneath could be damaged or the hardcore below the tarmac may have been washed away by the scouring action of the water, causing the road to collapse when the weight of a vehicle passes over it.
  • Take particular care at night when it might be difficult to see patches of standing water or flooded roads.
  • The air intake on many cars is low at the front of the engine bay and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage; hot catalytic converters can crack on contact if immersed in cold floodwater.
  • Do not ignore road closed signs they are there for a reason. If you come across impassable roads or have to abandon your car inform the Police.
  • Don’t assume fords are safe to cross just because the road is not closed, always look at the river level gauge and use your common sense.