With more wet weather expected to touchdown over the Xmas period, the Environment Agency and the AA have revealed how most drivers are prepared to gamble their lives by driving through floods.

According to the research, drivers are not taking the risk of flood water seriously with three quarters of motorists willing to drive through flood water, even though it is the leading cause of death during a flood.

All it takes is 30cm of flood water to make a car float and be potentially swept away, and only 10cm of water to kill a car’s engine. Remember, a single eggcup’s worth of water entering through an engine’s intake at the lower front end of a car is enough to leave a motorist stranded and in need of potential rescue.

To ‘research’ whether they can make it through flood water, 1 in 4 drivers said they try and gauge the water’s depth by whether they can see the kerb. This is not an ideal indicator as road cambers can vary massively plus there may be obstacles hidden under the water that could damage the underside of your car. The survey also reveals 12% of us hang back to see if someone else is prepared to take the plunge (quite literally) before heading in ourselves.

Some good news Young drivers aged between 18-24 years old are normally the focus of much criticism, i.e. driving too fast; not observing properly, etc. but on this occasion, it’s you who are the responsible ones compared to older drivers. The research shows that you are more likely to turn back when confronted with flood water and find another route compared to those over 45.

Don’t chance it if the road ahead is flooded – flood water can be deceptively deep and can hide other hazards in the road which can leave you stranded. Trying to drive through flood water puts you and your passengers at risk, but it can also cause damage to your car.” – Ben Sheridan, AA Patrol of the Year.

What to do on a flooded road

If the road is completely flooded, the official advice is to turn round and find another way to your destination. If you’re unable to do so, then cancel your journey because it’s better to be alive by the end of your drive, and not another potential fatality.

If the road is partially flooded (typically at the side of the road), it may be possible to continue. To ensure you remain safe:

• Drive down the middle of the road slowly (only if safe to do so).

• Drive in a low gear and keep your speed slow and constant.

• Driving too fast risks ‘aquaplaning’; this is where your tyres lose contact with the road.

• Once out of the flood water, come to slow stop for a moment to let any water drain away if it is safe to do so.

• As you head off, gently test your brakes 2-3 times to evaporate any residue water that could affect braking efficiency.

• Remember that if you spray a pedestrian with water, you can be fined and end up with points on your licence.

Do you live in a flood ‘hotspot’? The AA has compiled a list of the top ten places for breakdowns caused by flood water compiled between 2014 and 2018:

  1. Hawkswood Lane, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire – 27
  2. Riverside / The Embankment, Twickenham, London – 28
  3. Tanners Lane, Winterbourne Earls, Salisbury, Wiltshire – 28
  4. Green Road, Birmingham, Worcestershire – 30
  5. Buttsbury, Ingatestone, Essex – 32
  6. Riverside, Eynsford, Dartford, Kent – 35
  7. Furnace Grange Road, Trescott, Wolverhampton – 37
  8. Houndsfield Lane, Hollywood, Birmingham, Worcestershire – 49
  9. Rufford Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire – 71
  10. Watery Gate Lane (no, really), Leicester, Leicestershire – 88

Flood water © Kenneth Allen