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This month has seen the heaviest rain we’ve had in a long time, and with drivers out of practice on slippery wet roads, Trusted Dealers offers valuable advice below on how best to cope with driving in floods.
Takes it easy
Heavy rain can affect your visibility behind the wheel, so it is important to take things slowly. Check your braking distance is correct for the road conditions – the distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you should be two seconds when driving on a dry road, and at least 4 seconds in the wet.
Keep your windscreen clear
Your windscreen should be clear at all times during heavy rain. Make sure your wiper blades are in full working order and the jets are positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. Where possible, clean the screen with a sponge and remove any obstructions from the main area before you set off.
Check your headlights
If you need to use your windscreen wipers, you’ll probably need to switch on your headlights. Don’t rely on automatic settings – they may not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is better to operate the headlights manually in this situation.
Beware of aquaplaning
If the roads are wet there could be standing puddles on the road surface which could put your car at risk of aquaplaning. This occurs when a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. To recover from aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, grip the steering wheel firmly and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car should regain its grip as the water clears.
Facing a flood
When facing a flooded road, consider whether you can turn around and take an alternative route. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to identify how deep the flood is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. One way to work this out is to judge the flood in relation to the kerb height, or to observe if any other vehicles similar to yours are driving safely through.
Making the decision
If the flood was not caused by heavy rain, and you are unsure how it has formed, it is best to avoid it altogether as you will not have any indication of the water’s depth. In addition, if the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it – there’s a danger your car could be swept off the road. If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. If your engine does happen to take in water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop.
Driving through a flood
If you decide to drive through a flood, be sure to take it slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on the accelerator to increase your engine revs. Similarly to a hill start, do this without increasing your speed, this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you’re in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. Once you’ve driven out of the flood, stop and test your brakes to ensure they are dry and working properly.
Try to avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally- even when driving through puddles at the side of the road – you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.