Navigating floodwater

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24 January 2024
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Winter can cause dangerous driving conditions : credit: © Patrick Cruywagen
A poignant reminder of the dangers of crossing flooded waterways

We were very sad to read about the loss of three men who died after their 4x4 was swept away as it tried to cross a river on the North York Moors. Our thoughts go out to their friends and family, and we’re sure that the 4x4 community will agree with us when we say that their loss will not be in vain, serving as a reminder to others that in the wrong conditions water crossings can be extremely dangerous.

Never attempt to drive through water if you notice the following: fast-moving floodwater – there could be unseen currents capable of causing you to lose control or worse, get carried away in the flow of the water. Two feet of flowing water can sweep away most large four-wheel drive cars. While some roads have been designed to run through shallow rivers (fords), always be aware that the speed of the water and how deep it is can change depending on the weather.

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If you have to drive through water, are confident it’s low enough and it isn’t flowing floodwater, the following should help you navigate safely: check there aren’t any oncoming vehicles and approach the water slowly, but gradually speed up to push water away; drive in the middle where the water will be at its shallowest; keep moving to ensure you don’t stall and avoid water from being sucked into the exhaust or washed into the air intake. Once you’ve made it through the water drive slowly and gently engage brakes to dry them. If they don’t respond effectively, stop and wait for them to dry off. Remember, water can hide dips in the road or there may be no road at all, as flash floods can wash away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath. Stay safe everyone.