Drivers warned of

flood danger

Driving in a flood

BAD weather in winter can lead to unexpected flooding and road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to make sure they - and their vehicles - are up to the task of driving in wet conditions.

Rain causes your tyres to lose traction. When the road gets wet, the rainwater mixes with the dirt on the road surface, making everything slippery and causing your tyres to lose grip on the road.

Large areas of surface water can lead to aquaplaning, where a layer of water is trapped between your tyres and the road surface. This means it's suddenly impossible for you to accelerate, brake or steer.

Rain also makes it difficult for you to see when you're driving along. Using dipped headlights when it's raining will not only help you to see, it will greatly increase the chances of other drivers seeing you.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth says that 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 drivers can lose control or stall the engine because water can be sucked into the exhaust or washed into the air intake.

To 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.

If your vehicle stalls in water do not attempt to restart the engine as this 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 and as soon as it is safe to do so, call a breakdown recovery provider.

And GEM adds that every motorist who drives through water should check their brakes are effective. Dry them out by applying them gently and taking it easy for a few miles after the flood.

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