Over the past few years the UK has experienced its fair share of extreme weather, in particular flash and localised flooding caused by heavy rainfall over a short period of time.

Flood Sign

These flash floods have caused significant damage to property and infrastructure and can be a terrifying experience for those caught up in them. With the unpredictability of our weather showing no signs of settling down, we can expect that UK drivers will have to deal with flooded roads on a more regular basis in years to come.

With that in mind, we’ve put together our tips for driving in heavy rain and floods.

How to Drive in Floods

Flooded Street in Sunset

Our primary piece of advice is to avoid driving in extremely heavy rain and floods - these weather conditions are unpredictable and can be dangerous.

If you hear of flood warnings in your area, try to move your car to higher ground, to try to avoid the damage that flood water can do to your vehicle.

If you do have to drive then keep the following tips in mind:

  • Do not drive into flowing or moving flood water.
  • Do not drive in water deeper than 10 cms.
  • If you do have to drive in deep puddles, reduce your speed.
  • Do not drive towards another moving vehicle; stop and let them pass.
  • As you exit the water, test your brakes.

How to Drive in Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Driving in heavy rain means poor visibility and often slippery road surfaces. Keep your speed down and remember that it’s likely to take you longer to brake than usual.

  • If you’re driving in heavy rain, reduce your speed.
  • Vent the inside of your vehicle, crack a window and turning the heating system on, this prevents the windows fogging up and improving visibility. 
  • Turn your windscreen wipers on to the appropriate speed.
  • Turn your headlights on, even in the daytime.
  • Leave space between you and the vehicle in front; it takes a lot longer to stop on a wet road.
  • If visibility is very poor use your fog lights (remember to turn them off when visibility improves).
  • Heavy rain can leave patches of standing water; be careful not to hitting these at speed and avoid heavy braking, as this can lead to aquaplaning.

What is Aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning (sometimes called hydroplaning) is a common issue in the UK - we have a lot of rainfall every year, after all!

Aquaplaning is caused by a buildup of water between your vehicle’s tyres and the road underneath them. This standing water on the road surface stops the vehicle’s tyres from being able to grip the road properly, and the lack of traction can cause skidding.

Safety Tips for Driving in Heavy Rain and Floods

Heavy rain and floods are not the safest driving conditions and we would advise you to avoid driving if possible.

If you have to drive your vehicle, however, please keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Deeper flood water can hide or obscure road side features and furniture.
    • - Curb stones could be below the water line.
    • - Heavy flooding can remove manhole covers and grids.
    • - Speed bumps and potholes will be hidden under the water.
  • Not all flood water is at the same depth; be careful when driving through long expanses of flood water.
  • Flood water in towns and cities could be contaminated by sewage and industrial waste, so limit your exposure to it.
  • Flood water will be cold.
  • The conditions are always changing: as you drive through a patch of flood water, it may not be the same depth or flowing at the same speed as last time.

 

If you found this article useful, be sure to take a look at our other winter driving tips.