Driving Through Floodwaters

It is extremely important that you never drive through flood water because you won’t know the depth of the water, and you won’t know the condition of the road underneath the water.

Breakdown company rescuing a car submerged in flood water.

Don’t drive through floodwater

Remember that flooding can occur anytime and anywhere, and as little as 15cm of fast-moving floodwater can knock you off your feet. 30cm of flowing flood water can move a car, while 60cm is enough to float most vehicles including sport utility vehicles and 4x4s.

While most floods can’t be prevented, if you are outside or away from your home there are simple steps you can take to protect your life and property.

Rain on a window.

If flooding occurs:

  • Move to higher ground immediately and stay away from flood prone areas.
  • Do not allow children to play near high water, storm drains or ditches. Remember: hidden dangers often lie beneath the water.
  • Remember that significant dangers may be hidden by floodwaters, such as open drains and manholes. Never drive on a flooded road.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognise flood dangers.

Useful information on safe driving in floods and heavy rain and be found on the AA's website.

Be warned: you could face a heavy fine and 3-9 points on your licence if the police believe you were driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.
Driving in heavy rainfall.

Driving fast through standing water is:

  • Dangerous - tyres will lose contact with the road and you will lose control of your vehicle’s steering. This is known as 'aquaplaning'. If you do experience aquaplaning, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the accelerator until the tyres regain grip.
  • Inconsiderate - driving through water at speeds above a slow crawl throws water onto pavements, soaking pedestrians, or cyclists. It could also cause a wave of water that can flow over kerbs, walls, and flood defences, causing major flood damage to buildings and property.
  • Expensive - the air intake on many cars is positioned low down at the front of the engine bay, and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage. All engines are affected but turbo-charged and diesel engines are most at risk.
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