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UK flooding risk a danger to motorists

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How drivers can stay safe if caught up in floodwaters

Motorists have been warned that floods are becoming an increasingly common natural disaster in the UK, and they must prepare for what to do if they find themselves caught in one.

As we approach the wettest months of the year road safety experts at Road Angel​​ have issued guidance to drivers on how to stay safe if they do find themselves caught up in floodwaters.

According to Met Office figures, the amount of heavy rain on extremely wet days has increased by 17% compared to thirty years ago.

Flash floods, especially after heavy rain, are common in the UK so it is important that motorists know what to do if they find themselves trapped, or with no other option but to drive through.

Often, drivers don’t know how deep the water is, or how fast-moving the water is and there is a risk that the vehicle could be swept off.

Driving through floods can be life-threatening with fast-moving water-carrying debris and the risk of the vehicle being carried off and submerged.

The stark warning comes as crisis charities predict increasing risk of floods and flash floods is growing in England, Wales, and across the UK.

Drivers have been told that if the water rises above the middle of the vehicle tyre or is deeper than 4 inches, they should not attempt to drive through it, and should instead pull over somewhere safe until the water drains away or the rain stops.

If this is not possible, motorists must stay calm and gently decelerate, turn on the hazard lights, and constantly rev to avoid stalling the engine.

In the event that tyres lose contact with the road and drivers lose steering control, they should gently lift off the accelerator and hold the steering wheel straight, and should not be tempted to brake harshly as this will make things worse.

On the rare occasion that a driver finds themselves stuck in rising water, or a submerged vehicle, they should try not to panic, unbuckle their seatbelt, roll down the window and escape as quickly as possible.

They should then climb to the top of the car, call 999 and wait for emergency help to come and rescue them.

Besides being dangerous, water can cause irreversible and costly damage to a vehicle including the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension and general electrical components.

For this reason, it is always best to take the vehicle to a garage or mechanic if it has been through water to check it is safe to drive.

Gary Digva, founder of Road Angel, said: “Driving through water can be extremely dangerous, cars can turn into death traps when flooding is involved, so it should be avoided at all costs.

“Drivers who spot flooding on the road have been told to pull over somewhere safe, get to higher ground or find an alternative route until the water drains away or the rain stops.

“In the event that driving through flooding cannot be avoided, it is important to remain calm and turn on hazard lights to improve visibility and let your presence be known to other drivers.

“Motorists should then switch into first gear to minimise the risks of stalling and getting stuck and make sure to maintain a steady so that the car doesn’t lose control.

“It is also important that drivers constantly rev by slipping the clutch because if water gets in the clutch it could stall the engine.

“Although floods can not always be anticipated, there are ways to minimise the risks of being trapped in one including researching where high-flood-risk areas are and making sure to check for emergency alerts and monitor local news or radio.”

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