Drivers Fact Sheets

Driving Safely Through Floods

  1. You need to gauge the depth of water. 15cm (6ins) of rapidly moving water can knock a man down. Many vehicles will float in 60cm (2 feet) of water or less.
  1. If it becomes deeper than the bottom of your doors, reverse or turn round. The water may not appear deep but an increase of depth of a centimetre or so may be enough to tip the balance and make the vehicle buoyant enough to float away.
  1. If there are abandoned vehicles up to the axles in water, there is a reasonable chance you won’t make it either. Remember that even if you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle it can still be swept away by flood waters of 60cm or more despite that sense of security and wellbeing the vehicle gives you.
  1. Even low levels of floodwater can damage some vehicles. If water is sucked into the engine air intake, often located at the front of the engine bay and in some cars can be quite low, it will cause serious damage. Catalytic converters are particularly vulnerable. They work at high temperature, are easily damaged by cold water which makes them crack. Moreover, they are expensive to replace.
  1. If you decide to take the risk of driving through a flood make sure you believe it is completely safe to do so. Then, you should drive on the highest part of the road. If it is not possible to drive in the middle of the road, stay as far as possible from the kerb where the water is at its deepest.
  1. If a vehicle is driving in the opposite direction do not enter the floodwaters until it has passed.
  1. Drive slowly and steadily, the bow wave you create at the front should be as small as possible.
  1. Use first gear and keep the engine revs high. If necessary, slip the clutch slightly to increase engine speed. In a vehicle with an automatic gearbox, select the lowest gear and drive at a steady pace. Do not back off the accelerator. Water in the exhaust can stall the engine.
  1. Driving at speed through low level water can cause aquaplaning, the water prevents your tyres from gripping the road and you lose control of your steering. This can be especially dangerous in heavy rain on motorways. If this happens ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
  1.  After driving through any water, test your brakes as soon as you can. Make sure, of course, there is no-one behind you, then press gently on the brake pedal to make sure they work. If they don’t work properly, they can be dried by applying gentle pressure as you drive along. Be very careful if you do this as left foot braking is an acquired skill.
  1. Finally, if you drive fast through low water and soak pedestrians and cyclists, the police can prosecute you on the grounds of driving without reasonable consideration to other road users. The maximum fine is £2,500 with between three and nine penalty points on your licence.

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Name of Driver……………………………………………………Vehicle Reg…………………………………..