Driving tips for flooded roads

Driving on flooded roads can be dangerous. Here are some pointers for staying safe and avoiding damage to your car’s engine.

Driving in hazardous conditions

15 December 2023

There’s one thing we can all be sure of living in the UK: rain. While a little bit of rain probably won’t dampen your driving, when the heavens open and flooding happens, it’s bit different.

Driving on flooded roads can be dangerous, and you should avoid getting behind the wheel where possible. But if you can’t postpone your trip, we’ve put together some tips to help keep you safe:

Taking care on trunk roads, motorways and dual carriageways

Trunk roads - more often known motorways or dual carriageways - can be especially dangerous when they’re flooded.

  • Reduce your speed - it’s best to stay below 50mph. Driving at high speed on flood water increases the risk of aquaplaning, where your car’s tyres lose traction and you lose control of the vehicle.
  • Pay attention to your speed on any downhill stretches of road, too. Ease off your accelerator to minimise any danger.
  • Be aware of your stopping distance. In these conditions your stopping distance will be at least double what it normally is. So, make sure you give any cars in front of you plenty of room in case you need to brake suddenly.

It’s not uncommon for these larger roads to be closed during floods. If you really need to drive somewhere, always check the latest traffic information to see if you’ll need to go a different way.

Floods on rural roads may be deeper than you think

Rural roads are often the worst affected by floods. Unlike motorways and dual carriageways, the lack of drainage on country roads can cause serious problems. Because the water has nowhere to go, it’s likely to build up on the road itself.

  • Reduce your speed. Not only will your braking distance be longer in wet weather, but you’ll need extra time to react to hazards, too.
  • Pay attention to the road ahead of you, and especially around corners.
  • Try to avoid puddles, where possible. It’s never safe to drive through water where you can’t see how deep it is. You never know whether there’s a pothole or some debris beneath which could cause some serious damage.
  • Avoid deeper expanses of water at all costs. It could cause damage to your car’s engine if flood water is above four inches deep. If you’re in any doubt to how deep the water is, avoid it and try to find a different route.
  • Be on the lookout for moving flood water. This can pose a serious risk to both you and your car. If the current is strong enough, moving flood water can pull your car off the road into deeper water.

Paying attention to other road users and pedestrians on urban roads

The roads in towns and cities usually have good roadside drainage. But, in particularly heavy rain, these drains can become overwhelmed. As with rural roads and motorways, if the road is flooded, try to find a different route.

  • In built up areas, pay attention to other road users and pedestrians. Cyclists and bikers are especially vulnerable. It’s unlikely you’ll be the only one on the road, and visibility can be lower during flooding.
  • Indicate any turns or manoeuvres well in advance.
  • Slow down. As before, not only will your braking distance be longer, but you’ll need extra time to react to pedestrians, debris, and other hazards, too.
  • Drive slow through any shallow puddles. Under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it’s an offence to splash nearby pedestrians.

Check what is and isn’t covered by your insurance

Sometimes accidents happen. When they do, it’s important to know where and how you can get help.

If you’re insured by AXA, check your policy documents in your online account now. That way you’ll know what you are and aren’t covered for, and you’ll be well-prepared if you need to make a claim.

Once you’ve logged in, make sure you’ve checked your details are up to date too. If your information isn’t right when you go to make a claim, we might not be able to pay it in the way you’d expect.