Wet Weather / Flooding
Wet weather driving can be challenging. It demands concentration higher than that of a nice sunny day. Again, the journey will be safer and easier if your car is ready for the conditions. During heavy rain, surface water can accumulate on roads. This in turn will again require the driver to adapt their style of driving. Headlights and wipers should be in good condition and used alongside demisters. Slow down and give yourself more distance between you and the vehicle in front, braking distances can greatly increase during a wet spell.
Good tyres will improve handling and braking performance but will also reduce the risk of aquaplaning; this is when the tyres cannot cut through the water and therefore lose contact with the road surface, causing loss of control momentarily. Wet weather has different levels of severity; a quick shower, drizzle or a prolonged torrential downpour, which in turn can cause flash flooding.
As an ex Swift Water Rescue Technician, I understand how unpredictable, dangerous and devastating water can be. Educating drivers is critical during a flooding event. Over recent years I’ve seen dozens of people getting into difficulty in a flood situation. So what are the risks of driving in to floodwater?
There are many: engine failure due to water ingress, damage to your car inside due to floodwater, embarrassment of being rescued by the Fire Service. Is this not enough? Well how about losing your life or serious injury?
Moving water is highly dangerous. Just 6 inches of fast flowing water will sweep an adult off their feet, 12 inches will make a car float, and 2 feet of moving water will wash a car away. Do those figures get you thinking? No? Well how about all the others dangers you cannot see? What’s under the surface? Possibly raised man hole covers, washed away roads, and other debris. Then there is the risk of deadly disease and contaminates in floodwater that you cannot see.
All of these pose a risk not only to you, but also rescuers who will come to get you. Fords are incredibly dangerous; they change minute by minute depending on rainfall and rising river levels. They do kill people. Stay away from a flooded ford. A massive issue during flooding events are drivers moving signs like these.
Flood road closed signs.
These signs are there to protect you and other road users. DO NOT MOVE THEM. I have been in a flood environment, stood in full water- rescue gear arguing with people who insisted on coming past me. This wastes time; it’s irresponsible and puts lives at risk. Heed warnings and take advice from police or fire. The best advice I can give is if you see a flood, or road closed sign, turn around. Don’t risk your car, don’t risk your life. Turn your vehicle around and go back. A few more minutes on the journey is better than never getting there at all.
This brings its own set of challenges. It requires speed to be reduced to minimise risk of vehicles being blown over & also drivers to think about their journey. Lorises, vans & caravans are all at high risk.
Remember it isn’t just you on the roads. During windy times think ahead. Think about what wind does, it causes destruction, so naturally there will be debris. This debris could be anywhere. Gardens pathways & roads. Slow down & expect the unexpected. If you see significant damage causing obstruction on the roads, call 101 & tell the police. If you see a threat of harm or to life, call 999.
My final note is this;
32 % of all flood related deaths are from drowining in a vehicle.
That’s too high, that’s because of ignorance and people thinking they know best. Listen to the professionals. Environment Agency, Fire & Rescue & Police are they to help & protect you. They know what’s going on. Keep a eye on the local press, social media & television.
Don’t be a hero. The U.K. is currently being battered by floods & storms, agencies have enough work to do. Don’t add to it.