Top tips for driving in a flood

Driving on flooded roads is best avoided, if possible. Driving through water can be very dangerous and can cause serious flood damage to your vehicle. However, if you absolutely need to make a journey, here’s our advice on how to stay safe:

Before you set off

If you are unsure if the route you are taking is safe or not, check whether the Environment Agency has issued any flood warnings online, or call the Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

This number also works for Wales and Scotland, or you can visit the Scottish Environment Protection Agency online flood warning service. Flood warnings are updated every 15 minutes to help you plan a safe journey.

Beware that some insurers might not pay out if you damage your car while driving it through a flood, which they may consider was avoidable damage.

Plan your route to avoid any flood water, but if you absolutely have to drive, or you get caught unawares, here’s some advice on how to make your journey as safe and as smooth as possible:

1. Investigate how deep flood water is, or if there are any hidden hazards submerged underneath.

2. It’s best to negotiate flooded roads one vehicle at a time, so wait for any other vehicles to clear the water before you enter.

3. Once you are sure you can make it through the flood water, set off at no more than two or three miles per hour. Stay in first or second gear, keep your speed consistent, and keep the revs high so water doesn’t flow up the vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

4. Drive down the centre of the road where the water should be shallowest.

5. Don’t stop! It could be difficult to get started again.

6. After clearing the flood, try your brakes to make sure they are working properly.

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How deep is safe?

For most cars, you shouldn’t attempt to drive through water which is any more than five inches deep, and NEVER attempt to drive through fast-moving water - your car could easily be swept away.

What to do if you get stuck

If your car gets stuck in flood water, call 999 or signal for help from a passer-by. Don’t keep trying to start the engine - this can cause more flood damage. Wait in a safe place for help to arrive.

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The power of flood water

Just six inches of water will reach the bottom of most cars and can cause it to lose control or stall.

A foot of water can cause many cars to float, meaning the driver has no control.

If flood water reaches two feet deep, most cars would be swept away.

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