Motoring and Property Editor
2:58 PM 21st February 2024
Driving Safely In Wet And Stormy Conditions
As the UK continues to be battered by severe weather and with no respite in sight, we take a look at how to keep safe on the roads.
photo State Farm
In cases of severe flooding, the question to ask is if you really need to make your journey at all. Modern cars are extremely safe and capable, but not invincible. Water damage to an engine can cost thousands of pounds to put right and may cause an insurance company to write off a car altogether.
If you do have to drive through deep water, here are some top tips:
Stop and assess the situation before proceeding.
How deep is the water and can you see where the area of flooding ends?
Make sure there is no traffic coming the other way, or you may get swamped by their bow wave
Drive on the highest section of the road (usually the middle)
Drive slowly, but ensure you do not stop until safely clear of the water
In a manual car, slip the clutch and keep the engine revs high
Never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe and enter the engine.
Once clear of the water, dry your brakes before you need them.
photo National Highways
As pictures of the recent flooding have shown, even large 4x4 vehicles are not immune from flood damage, so check the wading depth of your vehicle before you take the plunge!
photo National Highways
Strong winds can unsettle your car and even change your direction of travel. Exposed sections of motorways are particularly dangerous as speeds are much higher.
So once again, if you really must travel, take extra care:
Choose a route least exposed to the weather.
Be on the lookout for fallen trees and other debris
Grip the steering wheel firmly at all times
Take extra care overtaking high-sided vehicles and give them extra room
Give cyclists, motorbikes and pedestrians the space they may need
Watch trees and bushes on the roadside to gauge wind strength
Reduce speed to allow for the unexpected
photo Pauline Smith
We've seen plenty of it, but how best to handle wet roads?
Thoroughly demist your car, using the air-conditioning if fitted
Dipped headlights are essential - be seen!
Slow down - braking distances increase greatly in the wet
Plan ahead and drive smoothly to avoid skidding
Look out for standing water and deep puddles
Take care to avoid soaking pedestrians/cyclists and other vulnerable road users
Let's hope for a respite from the wet and windy weather soon. However, in the meantime, be careful out there!