Heavy rain, high winds and flooding can cause massive disruption to roads and create many potential dangers to drivers.
Here is our advice on how motorists can help reduce the risk of needing rescue or coming to harm in bad weather conditions.
Before your journey
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- In periods of heavy rain, roads can become very slippery and, if the rain persists, flooded. Top tips to help stay safe include:Plan your route; consider that some roads are likely to be more vulnerable to flooding and high winds than others. Consider potential alternative routes, should your first choice be blocked.
- Try to stick to main routes; allow plenty of time for your journey, and allow for possible hold-ups.
- Check your tyres. Tread depth should be at least 1.6mm across 75% of the width of the tyre for its entire circumference. Ensure that tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure.
- Check lights and wipers to ensure that they are working properly.
- Clean windscreens, windows and mirrors.
Check weather forecasts, your route may be blocked.
- Test your brakes to ensure that they are working properly.
- Check your emergency kit – ensure you are prepared. You should have an ice scraper, de-icer, clothes, warning triangle, a torch, blanket, warm clothes, food and drink, a first-aid kit and a map.
- Make sure someone else knows where you are going and which route you intend to take.
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged, so that you are able to quickly raise the alarm if you need to.
Driving in heavy rain and floods
Do you really need to drive?
- Monitor media broadcasts closely; flash floods can happen with very little, if any, warning.
- Do not drive through flooded areas; if you see a flooded road ahead, turn around and find an alternative route.
- If there is no obvious alternative route, get to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.
- If you come across water, even if it looks shallow enough to cross, please do not try: water hides dips in the road, debris such as rocks or branches in your way. There may even be no road surface under the water, as flooding can scour away the road and a significant amount of ground underneath; even the most tranquil-looking patch of water can hide a multitude of potential hazards.
- Just six inches of flood water is enough to reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or potential stalling.
Flooded dips in roads hide obstacles that could trap you.
- If your car does stall, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
- If you have driven through any puddle of any significant size, test your brakes as soon as possible afterwards.
- In heavy rain, drive slowly and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicles around you. Driving too quickly can cause you difficulty if you need to make an emergency stop, and can also cause dangerous levels of spray for vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.
- Make sure your windscreen wipers are working effectively. They will need to work especially hard in torrential rain and hailstorms and if your visibility is reduced, please slow down.
Driving in high winds
Watch out for crosswinds.
- Drivers should take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges or high open roads, and are advised to find alternative routes where possible.
- Slow down and be aware of side-winds. Be alert for any debris which may have been blown onto the road.
- Be prepared for sudden gusts at any time, as these can catch out even the most experienced driver.
- Be alert for sudden gusts when passing bridges, gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.
Driving in fog
- Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you.
- If it is foggy (less than 100m visibility) then switch on your fog lights. Do not forget to turn them off when conditions improve.
- Fog is often patchy so try not to speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog further up the road.