Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging motorists to ensure they – and their vehicles – are ready for the potential challenges of driving in winter.
In this first of four advice notices, GEM road safety officer Neil Worth answers questions on driving safely in times of heavy rain and flood:
What’s the maximum depth of water I can drive through safely?
Driving through any depth of water can be dangerous. Even just six inches – or 15cm of water – will reach the bottom of most passenger cars. Above this depth you can lose control or stall the engine because water can be sucked into the exhaust or washed into the air intake.
How can I reduce the risk of stalling?
If you are driving a manual car, press the clutch down slightly at the same time as pressing the accelerator. This will help the car move along slowly and should keep water out of the exhaust pipe. Stay in the same gear throughout the flood. In an automatic car, you can consider keeping your foot on the accelerator while using your lowest gear, but control the speed with your footbrake.
What if I stall in a flood?
Don’t attempt to restart the engine as you will risk severe damage. You’ll need to remove the injectors or plugs to get rid of any water – so the best thing to do is to get out of your vehicle and wade to higher ground, especially if the water is rising. Then, if you’re a GEM member, call us when it’s safe – if you’re not, then call your own breakdown recovery provider.
What should I do when I’m through a flood?
You’ll need to make sure your brakes are effective – dry them by applying them gently and taking it easy for a few miles after the flood.
Check out GEM’s free safety video on driving through floods. There is information on driving in flooded areas, tips on maximum depths of water and paying heed to warnings and road blocks. You’ll find the video online at www.motoringassist.com/drivinginfloods
GEM has extensive advice on winter driving techniques. You’ll find a video, leaflet, tips and a free eBook download at www.motoringassist.com/winter-driving