Floods and Extreme Weather

Advice for driving in heavy rain and floods

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous and we advise against driving if at all possible. However, if you must drive, there are a handful of steps you can take to reduce your chances of an accident or breakdown in wet weather.

How to prepare for driving in heavy rain

Firstly, it is always advisable to consider before you set off whether your journey is essential. If not, can it be delayed until after the rain has subsided?

If so then plan your journey in advance, taking care to avoid areas which are prone to flooding and factor in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion.

It is also a good idea to let relatives and friends know your intended route and expected time of arrival and where possible, travel with others.

Before you go

  • ​Check that your windscreen wiper blades are fully functional. If both front and back blades are not up to scratch, get them replaced.
  • ​Try to fill up with fuel before you travel, as getting stuck in traffic will increase your fuel consumption - Remember, with the lights, heater and wipers switched on, your fuel economy will be reduced even furthe
  • Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up-to-date with road closures, flooding and forecast
  • Carry a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journe
  • Check that your tyres are of the recommended legal tyre tread depth so you can be sure you have a safe amount of grip on the roads. 

How to drive in heavy rain

  • Firstly, slow down! Reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front as stopping distances in rain are increased 
  • Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily
  • Unless it’s foggy, don’t use rear fog lights. They can mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you
  • Look out for large or fast-moving vehicles creating spray which reduces visibility
  • Also remember to keep your air conditioning on, as this will stop your windows from misting up
  • Listen out for local news bulletins to keep up-to-date with road closures, flooding and forecasts
  • If you break down in torrential rain keep the bonnet closed while waiting for help to arrive, to avoid the electrical system getting soaked
  • Driving too fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road.  If your steering suddenly feels light you could be aquaplaning. To regain grip, ease off the accelerator, do not brake and allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again
  • Driving fast through deep water can cause serious and expensive damage
  • Be considerate to other road users and try not to spray pedestrians and cyclists as you drive through water

Heavy rain may lead to large puddles, areas of standing water and even flooding in the event that you may have to negotiate these types of conditions on the road, read below for our advice on how to drive through deep puddles.

How to drive through water and floods

“Puddles” may conjure an image of a small drop, but some can develop into sizable bodies of water. Driving through these puddles incorrectly could cause serious damage to your car not to mention cost an extortionate amount to repair.

As a result, we’ve put together some top tips for driving through them:

  • Avoid puddles, If the water is muddy you might not be able to see the bottom and gauge its depth.
  • Just 30cm of water is enough to move a vehicle, and while modern vehicles’ door seals are good and keep water out, this can make a car buoyant, meaning it could begin to float if the water gets to deep leaving you stranded. Even in this instance the water will eventually find its way in.
  • Be aware that grip levels on the road ahead will be diminished from additional surface water.

Shallow puddles are not the most arduous obstacles to overcome, but it’s still important to remember that on the other side of a puddle grip levels could be lower. Adjust your speed to suit the depth of the water, too. If the obstruction is deeper, take more time and care when crossing it. A few minutes planning could save you plenty of time – and money – in having your car repaired. And never attempt to drive through fast-flowing water – you could easily get swept away.