We’ve had a lot of rain lately and more on the way, this makes driving challenging at best, dangerous at worst. I suppose the advice must be, if the weather is really bad, consider not driving, however, this may not be a practical option I know.
Driving through flood water comes with some potential pitfalls, an innocent puddle at the side of the road could be harbouring a deep pothole, so, if you can and it is safe, set a steady course to avoid the puddle, pedestrians will love you for this too.
If you do have to drive through deep surface water, don’t drive like the people in the image I’ve attached to this article, this just forms a massive bow-wave ahead of you which can gain enough height to swamp your engine! Also, look at the water being dispelled sideways and away from your vehicle, the tyres are doing the same with the water on the inside, instead, it’s jet-washing your engine bay, not good!
The best way to drive through a flood is slowly and if you can, drive in the centre of the road where the water is likely to be at it’s shallowest. This will of course require you to look and plan well ahead. Maintain a speed that will not cause a bow-wave or excessive sideways waterfalls! Remember though, you may know what to do, but does the oncoming driver, so be careful how and where you chose to position your vehicle.
Once through the flood, test your brakes as soon as you can, but do this carefully, mirrors first, then apply light and progressive pressure on your brake pedal with you left foot while still driving along, this will feel strange and be careful, you might unintentionally brake hard, not good if there is someone close behind and you hadn’t checked your mirrors. Using this technique will force any water from your brake pads.
If you suspect the water level is above your exhaust tailpipe, best to NOT attempt to drive through.
Keeping your speed down when driving on very wet roads is always a good idea, especially if your tyres are heading towards their end of life, because low tyre tread, wet roads and speed can result in aquaplaning, this is where your tyres rise onto the surface of the water rather than remaining in contact with the road. You’ll know when this happens, the steering will become light and unresponsive. There is only one remedy, ease off the gas but definitely, definitely don’t brake!
And finally, contrary to popular belief, tyre tread is not for grip, it’s to remove water from under the tyre so that the rubber that is in contact with the road will grip the surface.
Did you know, at 70mph, four new tyres could be pumping three gallons (13.4litres) of water every second. Reduced tread = reduced water dispersal, so, go check your tyres as soon as possible.
And finally, finally, do you remember the two-second rule, for keeping a safe distance? 2 second gap between you and the vehicle in front on a dry road, saying ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’ (takes about to seconds) and adding ‘when the weather’s poor, add a bit more’ takes another two seconds, giving you your 4 second gap, because stopping distances double in the wet. However, these are minimums, I like to keep a lot more distance, I feel much safer and far more relaxed, how about you?