Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Drive to Arrive - wet weather safety advice

Motorists have been urged to not to put themselves in danger by trying to drive through floodwater as the County experiences an unseasonal bout of rain.

Whenever there is flooding in Essex, the Service is called out to rescue mindless motorists who find themselves in difficulty by driving into deep water.

These drivers risk their own lives and those of their passengers, and also tie up fire crews and rescue teams who could be needed elsewhere.

Sub Officer Kevin Jenner, of the Service’s Road Traffic Collision Reduction Team, said: “Just a foot or two of water is enough to float a car and six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars. This depth can cause loss of control or possible stalling as water is sucked into the exhaust or washes into the air intake.

“When confronted with floodwater the best thing to do is to stop and find an alternative route.

“Taking a risk can be both dangerous and costly. You and your passengers could easily be swept away in water and once you are rescued the car will have suffered extensive damage which will be complex and costly to repair.”

As well as the risk posed by flooding, drivers need to take extra care on the County’s wet roads.

ECFRS has issued the following safety advice:

  • When the road is wet it can take twice as long to stop, so slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Heavy rainfall and standing water can cause a vehicle to grip or aquaplane. If this happens, drivers should take their foot off the accelerator to slow down. Braking or steering suddenly will give you less control of the vehicle.
  • When faced with a flooded road, be extremely careful as you can’t always tell how deep the water is. Just 30cm of flowing water can wash a car away.
  • Use a little common sense. Driving into floodwater and hoping for the best is not a sensible option and is highly risky; by the time you find out the water is too deep you are already trapped.
  • Prepare your journey before you leave. If a road is flooded, find an alternative route.

The Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) website gives comprehensive advice, provided by Highways England, about driving in extreme conditions including floods and heavy rain.

For more information on road safety visit https://saferessexroads.org/.

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