Heavy rain and severe flooding are a common occurrence, especially during the autumn and winter months. Driving with extreme care is key to staying safe while knowing what and what not to do when faced with a flood can keep you safe, and also protect your car from being damaged or even destroyed. Read on for five top tips for driving safely on flooded roads.
1. Don’t travel if you don’t need to
The simplest way by far to avoid any risk to yourself or your car during severe weather conditions is simply to avoid driving if at all possible. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and try to take this into account when planning any journeys you may need to make. Make sure you are familiar with alternative routes in case you need to adjust your trip. It is generally advisable to keep to main roads wherever possible, as you do not want to risk getting stuck in an isolated rural area.
Check live traffic reports before travelling and make your decisions based on this. If flooding is already occurring between you and your destination, consider carefully whether or not the journey is worth making.
2. Maintain your tyres
When it comes to water on the roads, your tyres are your number one line of defence. One of the most important jobs that tyres do is dispel surface water to ensure that there is contact between your tyres and the surface of the road – enabling you to remain in control of your vehicle. If your tread is too worn or your tyre pressure is incorrect, then this can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your tyres and put the safety of you and other road users at risk
Make it a habit to check your tyres on a regular basis, and seek advice from a tyre fitter if you have any doubt about their condition.
3. Lower your speed
The speed at which you drive on wet roads is a major safety factor – and becomes dramatically more important if you are faced with floodwater. Hitting flood water at high speed will put you at risk of aquaplaning, a situation when a layer of water builds up between the wheels of your vehicle and the road surface. This leads to a loss of traction that prevents your vehicle from responding to you and can easily cause a dangerous accident.
Driving at high speed into flood water can also force water into the air intake, which can cause irreversible damage to your engine. In extreme cases, you may cause your pistons to seize, leaving you stuck at the roadside. You may also cause water to reach sensitive electrical connections, which as well as engine failure can lead to dangerous vehicle fires.
4. Avoid waves
If you are approaching a flooded stretch of road and another vehicle is already moving through the water towards you, hang back and let the water subside before attempting to pass. Other vehicles can create large waves which put your vehicle at greater risk of water damage. They can also cause water to be thrown across your windscreen, leaving you with no visibility.
If you do stop to wait, use your hazard lights to warn other road users that you are stationary and help to prevent accidents.
5. Pause and conduct a brake test
Once you have passed through floodwater, stop your car if it is safe to do so. This will allow excess water to drain away from your vehicle. This will also help stop the water being spread further, which can make the situation safer for other road users.
It’s also advised to gently apply your brakes on exit. This creates some friction and therefore heat to evaporate off any excess moisture, ensuring that your brakes are effective once you continue with your onward journey.
Not sure that if your tyres need replacing? Need advice on the best tyres for your vehicle? Pop into your nearest Tyreland fitting station today and speak to an expert today. Call us on 01 860 20 20 to find your local branch.