With the wet weather forecast to make another appearance, tackling a flooded road is becoming a common hazard for British motorists. However, there are some rules you need to adhere to if you want to avoid that sinking feeling!
Recent research indicates that more than half of drivers will tackle flooded roads in their car, with a quarter confident that they can take on up to 30cm of moving water – which is actually more than sufficient to sweep your car away!
Driving on flooded roads is extremely dangerous. You cannot simply dive in hoping that speed and a fingers-crossed approach will protect you. All this will achieve is a call to the recovery services and a massive repair bill. With many flood warnings still in place, and many months of winter weather ahead, we offer some tips on how to navigate flooded roads.
1. Forward planning is key. If you simply cannot avoid the flooded road and your only option is to go through it, first check how deep the water is. Park up and watch other motorists drive through the flooded area. If there is more than six inches of standing water or four inches of running water, do NOT even try. Even if you are confident to proceed, make sure you try to ascertain where dips or potholes may occur as the water will be deeper here.
2. If you are going to go for it, try to stay in the middle of the road and drive slowly in first gear – don’t attempt to go any faster than walking pace. Revs need to stay high to avoid the engine sucking in water through the exhaust, so slip the clutch if you need to (but don’t burn it out!). If your car is automatic, try keeping revs high by depressing the accelerator whilst simultaneously brushing the brakes.
3. The key is to try and create a bow wave at the front of the vehicle. Experts advise driving at around 4mph at first to create this, then to slow to a walking pace. This is said to create a depression in the water ahead and thus keeping the engine bay clear of the worst of the water. It is a difficult driving skill to master, so don’t rely on it.
4. Keep an eye out for gung-ho drivers coming the other way in a 4x4 or lorry. They can tackle floods that many cars are unable to and will cover your car with water as they pass by. For this reason, try and take turns to negotiate the flood.
5. If you don’t make it through and your car stops, don’t panic! Stay calm, put on any weather proof clothing you may have and wade to safety. Try to climb out of a window and leave the bonnet closed, then call for help.
6. If you do manage to get through a flood, dry off your brakes immediately by applying them gently. As soon as you can, check your radiator for leaves and other debris which may have been floating around in the water. If you have spotted a safe through route, help others out by telling them where it is.
7. Some motorists are lulled into a false sense of security believing that SUVs and 4x4s provide a more tactical vehicle in which to navigate floods. This is not necessarily true as many SUVs are front wheel drive so will not provide any extra grip in wetter conditions than a standard hatchback. 4x4s are just as susceptible to flooding as other vehicles, so the advice is always to provide with caution and extreme care.
The floods have brought a huge rise in the number of insurance claims being made. If your car is caught in flood waters, do let your insurance company know as soon as possible. At Westhill Insurance Services, our professional and friendly team are helping people get back on the (dry) roads as soon as possible. We pride ourselves on our customer service: we are not just here to sell you insurance, we are here to help you when life deals you a blow. No matter what type of insurance you need, Westhill Insurance Services can, and will, help. Pick up the phone and call one of our friendly advisors and you will find someone ready and willing to help, whether you need advice or whether you are looking to buy the right insurance to suit you, at the right price, just think Westhill.