The recent flooding in some areas has led a requests for advice on driving on flooded roads should, heaven forbid, such awful conditions should be encountered again.

Getting caught by a flood is a rare but frightening occurrence and you must quickly assess whether the water is too deep or swift moving to continue driving or if it is possible to drive through the water to drier ground.

In the very rare occurrence of flash floods where articles and perhaps even cars are being washed away, you must immediately decide whether to stay with the car or abandon it.

The depth of water can usually be judged by checking how much of familiar roadside objects have been submerged. For example, if the kerbs cannot be seen the water is at least six inches deep. Similarly, most road names in rural areas are on posts approximately 3 feet high and most road sign poles are at least 6 feet tall... How much remains above the water?

If you can drive to higher ground do so. If the car is being washed away by the force of water, open the doors or windows and allow it to partially fill. This will make the car much heavier and will, probably, stop it floating and moving.

Escape to the car roof and stay there until help arrives unless you can reach higher ground.

In the event of more normal flooding, up to perhaps half a metre deep, the car can usually continue to be driven given great care.

AT ALL TIMES keep the engine running or it will flood and stop, never to restart. Using first or second gear ONLY drive steadily, at no more than 10 mph until you are safely through the flood. DO NOT switch the engine off on reaching drier ground, allow it a few minutes to dry out.

After driving through deep water, ALWAYS try your brakes at a low speed. If they are not working properly drive a short distance with the brakes lightly applied to dry them out.

If they still don't work, stop and call for professional help.


Article © Graham Benge 2007

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