5 tips to stay safe on the roads in heavy rain and flooding

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When driving in heavy rain, flooded roads are a common hazard that drivers must contend with. Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be challenging and requires extra caution to ensure your safety and that of others on the road.

Whether you're driving in familiar or unfamiliar terrain, there are several precautions you can take to prevent accidents and ensure a safe driving experience.

Slow Down

If you come across a flooded road with standing water, slow down immediately. Don’t even think about going in if the water is moving.

Drive like you are doing a hill start and keep the engine ticking over at low revs - this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If your car has an automatic transmission, accelerate very gently but control the speed with your brakes.

Additionally, if a car is coming towards you and you've already entered the flooded area, switch your engine off and wait for their bow wave to pass. Water can easily come over a car’s bonnet and into the intakes, which can quickly ruin an engine.

Assess the Depth

It is important to note that flooded roads are not always safe to cross, and it's crucial to know the flood depth before proceeding.

If you are familiar with the road, you can judge the flood depth in relation to the kerb, but keep in mind that the road surface beneath the water may have broken up, with potholes and dips making the road more treacherous.

Watch Out for Aquaplaning

Aquaplaning is another common risk when driving in heavy rain. It happens when a wedge of water forms under the front of the tyre because the tread is not able to displace the amount of water present, causing it to lift off the surface of the road.

Slowing down is the best way to avoid it in the first place, but if you do aquaplane it is important to not panic and as smoothly and gently as possible ease off the accelerator. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden movements with it. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

Keep a Safe Distance

In difficult driving conditions, you should increase your following distance. Simple.

We all know (or should know) the two-second rule: count "one thousand and one, one thousand and two" as the car in front passes a stationary object and if you pass it before you've finished counting, then you are following too close. But in heavy rain visibility is reduced and stopping distances are increased, so you should apply the four-second rule instead. Or even more than that.

Assume your car is handling only half as well as usual

When driving in the wet you should assume that everything about the way your car handles is compromised.

You probably have a good idea of how well your car steers and responds, so just drive well below those expectations - be super-smooth and pretend the car is not up to its usual limits, because in very wet conditions, it's simply not.

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