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How to drive in floods
With torrential rain blanketing the UK recently, you might be wondering how to prepare for driving in a flood. We’ve put some top tips together to help you cope with motoring in severe rainy conditions.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
Just like driving in snow or ice, preparation is key. Check the weather forecast to see if rain is likely to affect your journey – the Met Office and Highways Agency are excellent sources of information to check conditions both in the sky and on the roads.
Sticking to main roads where possible will also reduce your risk of meeting a difficult or impossible to negotiate body of water.
If you can’t avoid certain routes however, ensure your car is best prepared for the conditions – that means clean headlights and windows, and tyres correctly inflated and above the legal 1.6mm tread depth. We’d recommend even more in serious conditions.
Make sure you keep people abreast of your plans, with rough departure and arrival times. Keeping a charged mobile phone in your vehicle to contact people in an emergency is a good idea too.
ALTER YOUR DRIVING
Braking distances double when the road is wet, so adjust your driving style to suit the conditions. By slowing down and increasing following distances, you give yourself more time to properly assess the conditions and to react to an event.
In very wet conditions your vehicle can aquaplane – where a film of water stops the tyre contacting the road – leaving you with reduced control over the car. Lift off the accelerator slowly and don’t brake or steer violently to help regain control.
Sudden steering, throttle and brake inputs will unsettle the car, and with reduced grip in the wet, jerky actions will increase your risk of having an accident – make gentle movements with all the controls to keep the car as stable as possible.
Remember, floodwater is usually deepest nearer the kerb, so try and stay in the centre of the road, keeping engine revs reasonably high and speed low – that way you’ll have better control over the car. Don’t drive into any water without knowing how deep it is.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BREAK DOWN
If you do experience the worst-case scenario and your vehicle fails, stay with your car. Only abandon your vehicle if there’s no alternative.
Position your car out of harms way so it doesn’t obstruct traffic or risk causing an accident, if possible. Put your hazard lights on and erect a warning triangle in a sensible position if your vehicle carries one.
Let someone know where you are by calling for help – if you’re on a motorway, use the emergency telephones provided as it will help pinpoint your location.
Don’t put your bonnet up. Although it’s a recognised sign that you’ve broken down, wet electrics will mean you won’t be going anywhere fast.
Floodwaters can rise quickly, so make sure you’re properly prepared before setting out on any journey in rainy conditions. Drive sensibly and to the conditions and you should successfully reach your destination.
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