How to Drive Safely in Flood Conditions

If there’s one thing to be said about 2024 so far, it’s that it’s been wet. Very, very wet. The succession of named storms crossing the country have meant that a lot of areas have faced significant flooding. And the West Midlands is no exception. So, it’s a good thing for all new drivers to learn how to drive in flood conditions.

What Do You Need to do When Driving in a Flood

Shallow flood water

If there is a small amount of flood water on the road, it’s perfectly fine to drive through it. But you should take precautions. Drive slowly. Keep away from the kerb, as most UK roads are formed with a camber to allow surface water to drain to the side. And pay close attention to other drivers. Once you have exited the flooded area, and it is safe to do so, be sure to test your brakes. Even if the water didn’t seem high enough to reach the underside of your vehicle.

Medium flood water

If flood water is sitting at around 6 inches in depth, you can still pass through it. However, it is important to take some precautions.

  • Always stop to assess the likely depth of the water. If another car is passing through the flood water ahead of you, that should provide a useful guide. If you’re at all unsure, don’t take the risk.
  • If another driver is coming in the opposite direction, wait for them to exit the flood water before you begin to enter it.
  • Drive slowly, engaging first gear. If you can keep the engine speed high, you should hopefully avoid stalling. Stalling in flood water can be particularly problematic, as you may not be able to restart the engine. You may find slipping the clutch useful.
  • Maintain a slow and steady speed until you have exited the flood water. If you increase your speed, you could create a wave which may flood your engine. And if your engine floods, it will cut out, leaving you stranded in the middle of the water.
  • Test your brakes as soon as you exit the water, if it is safe to do so. Water can impact the function of your brakes, making them slower to respond. So, as soon as you are on a clear stretch of road, check your mirrors and perform a test. That way, you’ll know that you are safe to continue your journey.

Deep flood water

The only sensible advice for driving in deep flood water is not to.  In the past 10 years, 36 people have died as a result of flooding in England and Wales. And while not all of them were in their cars when they died, some of them will have been. Every time there is a flood, emergency services get called out to rescue drivers who have taken risks. So, if flood water is obviously high, or if you can’t tell how high the water is, don’t risk driving through it. Either find another way around. Or find somewhere else to go.

Floods are part and parcel of living in the UK. We tend not to get too many major flood events around Birmingham and the Black Country, but they do happen occasionally. And in heavy rain, even the roads around the city can run with water. Knowing how to react is the best way to stay safe. But most important of all, you have to know when it’s not worth taking the risk. So, if in doubt, don’t try it.

Are you looking for driving lessons in the West Midlands? Get in touch with DGN.

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Thomas Baugh

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