How to stay safe when driving through flood water in the UK

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Yet more persistent and prolonged rainfall has led to widespread localised flooding in many areas, while standing water after heavy downpours on already sodden ground is also a major hazard to drivers – and one that should not be underestimated. 

We would ordinarily recommend against travelling in conditions during which the risk of becoming stranded is great, but every year many drivers have little choice but to venture out in storms and floods. The vast majority of these journeys take place without incident, but wet roads increase the degree of risk.

Wet roads mean that stopping distances increase, while deep – even deceptively shallow-looking – water poses a particular threat to road traffic.

If you encounter floods on your journey, it’s important to approach them safely. Turning around and finding a different route is a better option than being stranded on the roof of your car for hours or, worse, being one of the flood-related fatalities that occur every year.

Modern cars are quite capable in extreme weather, but they remain especially vulnerable to water. Both the electrical system and the engine are particularly susceptible to water damage. And that’s before you take into account the immediate danger of fast-moving floodwater, which is surprisingly capable of washing a car downstream.

What should I do if I encounter a flood?

The best advice is “avoid”. If you can find a solution that doesn’t involve driving through floodwater, you minimise the risk to both you and your car. It’s almost always worth turning around and finding another route if a road is flooded – you’ll regret ruining your car for the sake of a few minutes.

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