Driving in flood water can be very dangerous. It can also be a necessary course of action due to burst water mains, overflowing rivers or adverse weather like storms and heavy rain. It's important to take precautions during adverse conditions, so, we’ve put together some tips on how to prepare for driving in flood water or a flash flood, in case you ever need to.
How to drive with poor visibility
The Highway Code states that you must use your headlights when driving if visibility is seriously reduced. This is generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres. Headlights and fog lights can be used to help see through heavy rain and thick fog, which often accompany flooding. Remember to use your hazards if necessary to increase your visibility to other road users in danger, for example if you have to come to a stop before an area of flood water.
Windscreen wipers should be replaced as soon as they stop clearing your front and back windscreen effectively, you don't want to be caught out struggling to see in the middle of a storm. If this is more relevant to your situation, read our separate guide and checklist for driving in winter weather including storms.
Driving in floods can increase the distance you need to stop when braking. You should try to double the usual distance you leave between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you when driving in very wet road conditions.
If your steering becomes less responsive, reduce your speed and slow down gradually, watching out for other cars and pedestrians.
How to drive through standing water
Try to avoid driving through standing water or anything deeper than 10cm unless you know your specific vehicle is equipped for deep water. If you have to drive through it slow down first to avoid making a bow wave in the water, which will affect the depth.
When roads are flooded, it can be difficult to tell how deep the floodwater is. Drive slowly and steadily as the tyre grip will be diminished and keep your vehicle in a low gear with the engine revs up. Once you exit the water, test your brakes as soon as you can and gently press the brake pedal to evaporate excess water.
Driving fast through standing water can cause expensive damage to your vehicle. The air intake on many cars is low at the front and it could take just a small amount of water to be sucked into the engine to flood it and cause serious damage. If you are stuck in flood water, even if it seems shallow, it's usually advisable to stay in your vehicle and call the emergency services.
Driving through fast moving water
Don't try driving through fast-moving water. You should never underestimate the speed of the water as there is a serious chance your vehicle could be swept away and that it will not float.
If you break down or are stranded in a flood
If you break down in heavy rain don't prop the bonnet open while you wait for help. The engine will be more difficult to start again if the electrics are wet. If you are trapped in flood water, it's usually advisable to stay inside the vehicle; it will most likely be cold water and even able swimmers can struggle in these conditions.
Remember that you can add breakdown cover onto your car insurance.
Call 0330 100 7823 for more information, or if you have breakdown cover already, call 0330 102 3621 for help.
Flooding help and claims
If you’re affected by floods and need some help and advice on making a claim, we are here to help, 24 hours a day. MORE THAN Claims Helplines are available 24 hours for customers.
Before you make a claim, please make sure you have your policy schedule and as many details of the damage as possible to hand, as these will speed up your claim.