Road Flooding ,Drains and Gullies
To report flooded roads or blocked drains and gullies please
contact the Highways Helpdesk on 01234 718003 or
Floods can occur when rivers burst their banks after a period of
heavy rainfall. Large volumes of water can cause flash-floods, or
floods in urban areas where the sewers and drains can't cope and
there is nowhere for the water to soak away.
In the event that flooding becomes serious and starts to
threaten property or people please refer to the Emergency Contacts (page opens in a
Walking ,cycling, riding or driving through flood
water can be extremely hazardous and should be
avoided. Prevention is better than cure; in the case of
flooding this means watching the weather forecasts before you set
out on a journey, If flooding is widespread you might be
better off cancelling trips that are not absolutely necessary.
If you are in a flood affected area consider moving
your motorcycle or car to a place of safety when you first hear the
warnings, but also be aware that if flooding has started moving
your vehicle could pose a serious risk - never underestimate the dangers of flood
Things to consider...
- Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly. In the UK they
are usually caused when rivers break their banks.You may not be
warned that a flash flood is approaching.
- Never attempt to drive through a flood that you couldn't walk
through and be aware that water hides dips in the road. Worse
still, there may be no road at all under the water. Flooding can
wash away the entire road surface and a significant amount of
- Just 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.negotiating a flooded section of road, drive in the middle
where the water will be at its shallowest.
- Consider other drivers - pass through flooded sections one car
at a time and don't drive through water against approaching
- Many cars will start to float in as little as one foot of water
- this can be extremely dangerous because as the wheels lose grip,
you lose control.
- Two feet of flowing water can sweep away most vehicles —
including large four-wheel drive cars. Don't try driving through
fast-moving water, for example approaching a flooded bridge – your
car could easily be swept away.
If you intend to drive through a flooded section of
road, your first task is to check the depth of the water. In normal
vehicles you should never attempt to drive through water that is
more than about 25 centimetres deep (or up to the centre of your
It's also worth checking where the air intake is on
your engine. If water is sucked into the engine it will stall, but
worse than this, it can cause severe damage that will require the
engine to be stripped down in order to bring it back to life. Do
not try to restart an engine that has sucked in water - the spark
plugs or injectors should first be removed to allow the water to be
Some four-wheel-drive vehicles are equipped with
high level air intakes allowing them to be driven through water
several feet deep. However even these vehicles can be washed
away in flowing water. If the water is 30 centimetres deep and
fast-moving it could wash your car off the road.
Where possible, flooded roads are best negotiated
by one vehicle at a time. Wait for approaching vehicles to clear
the water before you start to drive through.
If your wheels start to lose grip partway through a
flooded section it could be that the car is trying to float. To
counter this, open a door and allow some water into the car, this
will weigh it down, enabling the tyres to grip again - it's
probably best to get a passenger to do this so that you can
continue reving your engine and slipping the clutch.
After driving through a flooded section of road or
a ford across a river, test your brakes (whilst still driving
slowly) and be prepared to dry them off by touching the brake
pedal very lightly with your left foot (practice this on an empty
stretch of road next time you go out driving to discover what
very lightly means!).
Bedford Borough Council Road Safety Team