It's storm season: A Guide to Driving in Heavy Rain and Floods
Team Stroll31st October 2023
Between Storm Isha and Storm Jocelyn, we are getting a battering this week. Check out some handy info to keep in mind if you are heading out and about.
With so many roads closed due to flooding and landslide risks, driving this week isn't for the faint-hearted as driving conditions are unsafe and breakdowns much more common. Why does it always seem to be pouring down when your car conks out?
First thing is first, do you need to go out?
“Is my journey truly essential?”
And if it is, there are a few other things you can do to stay as safe as possible:
Listen to local news for any weather warnings in your area
Follow the main roads as country roads flood easier
Check your tyres are up to scratch. They should have a thread depth of 3mm. Anything below 1.6mm is illegal
Check your windscreen wipers are in good working condition
Driving in heavy rain
If you really must go out in all that rain, do these three things to avoid any incidents: Keep your speed down
The worst thing you can do in bad weather is get too close to the car in front - otherwise known as tailgating. In wet and slippery road conditions, you need to increase your braking distance from the car in front as your car will take longer to stop.
Stick your lights on
Wet weather can mean low visibility. So keep your dipped lights on. Don’t be tempted to use your fog lights as these are only for foggy weather. In the wet, fog lights can mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers.
Be cautious of aquaplaning
Aquaplaning is when water gathers in the grooves of your tyres and doesn’t flow away fast enough, so it feels like you’re sliding on ice. This can be very dangerous and can easily cause an accident. If your tyre thread is below 1.6mm, you’re at a much greater risk of aquaplaning. So it’s really important to check thread depth every so often. It’s also illegal and you can get fined for a “bald tyre”.
Driving in flooded areas
Again, stick to essential journeys only but if you find yourself in a flooded area:
Find another route
Don’t risk wading through that puddle! It could be a pond. It only takes a small cupful of water to wreck your engine so before you enter an unknown puddle, size it up first. If you think it’s too deep, turn around – it’s not worth the hefty repair bill.
Drive in a low gear
If you must carry on and you think a body of water is not too deep, drive through it in a low gear and avoid the deepest part – that’s usually near the kerb.
Check your brakes
Once you exit the other side, pause to let all the water flow away and test your brakes as soon you can to make sure they still work.
What if you break down?
Should the worst happen:
Keep your bonnet closed in heavy rain to avoid the electrical system getting soaked and cutting out.
If you do happen to stop dead after going through a body of water, don’t attempt to restart your car as it might cause further engine damage. Your best bet is to turn on your hazard lights, call for assistance and safely wait for your rescue.