County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service are offering the following the advice:
Driving in Floods and Standing Water
- Do not travel in heavy rain storms unless absolutely necessary.
- Keep well back from the vehicle in front as the rain and spray from other vehicles makes it difficult to see and be seen.
- Only drive through water if you know how deep it is. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast. Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded. Two feet of water will float your car.
- Drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave. Stay in first gear with the engine speed high and drive very slowly keeping your engine revving by slipping the clutch, otherwise water in the exhaust could stall the engine.
- Allow oncoming traffic to pass first and test your brakes as soon as you can after leaving the water. Warn passengers before you test your brakes.
- If possible drive in the middle of the road to avoid deeper water near the kerb.
- Driving fast through standing water is inconsiderate; driving through water at speeds above a slow crawl can result in water being thrown onto pavements, soaking pedestrians or cyclists. You could face a hefty fine and between three and nine penalty points if the police believe you were driving without reasonable consideration to other road users.
- If you break down in heavy rain don't prop the bonnet open while you wait for the patrol to arrive, the engine will be more difficult to start again if the electrics are all rain-soaked.
Driving in Fast Flowing Water
- Don't try driving through fast-moving water, such as at a flooded bridge approach – your car could easily be swept away. Tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control in what's known as 'aquaplaning'.
- If you do experience aquaplaning, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip. Look out for steering becoming unresponsive, which can happen if water prevents the tyres from gripping. If this occurs, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down. If possible, pull over somewhere safe until the rain stops and the water drains away.