Flooding can occur due to heavy rain, high tides, burst river banks, blocked drains, and more. You may feel safe from the rising waters in your car, but one-third of flood-related deaths occur because people are swept away in their vehicles. Just one foot of water is enough to shift your car, and two feet could sweep your car away. With this information in mind, be sure to follow these safety tips the next time you’re on the road in rainy or flooded conditions.
Drive Safely in Heavy Rain
If it’s pouring outside, delay going out until the weather improves. If you find yourself on the road when the deluge hits, here’s what to do:
- Turn on your headlights: This helps you see and be seen. If you have fog lights, use them to improve your visibility even more.
- Increase your following distance: It takes much longer to stop a car in wet weather, so leave twice as much space as usual between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
- Respond safely if your car starts to hydroplane: You may feel the car drift as water builds up in front of the tires. If this happens, ease off the gas pedal and hold the steering wheel straight and steady to help you regain control.
Take Precautions if You’re Forced to Drive on Flooded Roads
Since you can’t tell how deep standing water is, you should avoid driving through it. If you determine that the water is deeper than four inches, look for an alternate route. If you have no other choice but to press forward, proceed with caution and follow these tips:
- Watch other cars: Not every driver is as careful as you. If other vehicles pass you and brave the flooded road, see if you can tell how deep the water is. You may have an easier time getting through if you’re in a large truck as opposed to a small car.
- Drive slowly and steadily: This helps avoid making waves, which could slosh up into the engine and cause it to stall.
- Test your brakes: If the water comes up to the wheel rims or higher, check the brakes after exiting the water to make sure they still work. You can effectively dry the brake pads by gently pressing the brake pedal with your left foot, while maintaining a low speed with your right foot.
- Respond properly if your car gets stuck: Be aware that trying to restart a water-logged engine could cause irreparable harm. If the water isn’t at a dangerous depth, remain in the vehicle and call for help, or get the attention of a passerby who can call for help. If you notice the water rising, abandon the car and make for higher ground.