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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019
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7 tips for staying safe on the roads during this morning's floods

The worst of the rain seems to have passed – but the roads still present many hazards for motorists this morning.

A motorists in the Cregagh area of East Belfast struggles to get through the flash floods.
A motorists in the Cregagh area of East Belfast struggles to get through the flash floods.
Image: Peter Morrison/AP

THIS MORNING’S FLOODING across Ireland will cause significant traffic delay for many – particularly in the parts of Cork and the North where rainfall was at its highest.

While the reports seem to indicate that the water levels have stopped rising and are beginning to recede in some areas – with most of the overnight rain having fallen in the early hours, stopping since – the chances are that things can only get better.

But in case you find yourself in a dangerous area, it’s always worth brushing up on the best tips for how to drive in the wettest conditions.

Driving through floods can pose all kinds of problems – such as the possibility of electrical faults, the risk of hydraulic lock (when engines suck in water), or damage to pistons, connecting rods and other vital parts of your car’s internal mechanics.

So, with that in mind, here’s some guidelines about how to drive through flood waters:

  • First of all, a simple test: DON’T drive if you can’t identify the highest path through flood waters, or if you aren’t familiar enough with the area to gauge how deep the water is. As a general hint, the centre of the road could have the highest surface, as areas beside kerbs tend to have drains fitted.
  • The AA advises that you should never drive through any more than four inches of moving water, or six inches of standing water. Driving through levels higher than this increases the risk of aquaplaning, where your tyres lose their grip on the road and your vehicle starts skidding along the surface.
  • Always drive slowly and steadily – as one of the biggest motoring dangers during floods is the possibility that you could create waves which may then flow back under your bonnet.
  • By the same logic, try at all times to avoid driving through flood waters if there is traffic coming in the opposite direction – as there is the possibility that the waves caused by oncoming traffic can flood your engine.
  • Drive in a low gear (stay in first, if possible) and keep your revs high – and be sure to leave plenty of braking space as the water will result in a far higher braking distance. To this end, you should try to test your brakes as quickly as possible (though, of course, only when safe to do so) so that you can get a sense of how treacherous the conditions are.
  • Touch wood it won’t happen – but if your car cuts out, don’t open the bonnet and have a look inside – as you only risk causing further dampness to the mechanics. Get out and lock the car behind you, and take shelter in a dry area close by. Try to avoid the temptation to stay seated in your car, as there is a danger that any rising waters could bring the vehicle somewhere more dangerous – and take you with it.
  • Bring spare (and warm) clothing with you in case you need to leave the car, or in case you might have to spend some extra time there.

Good luck out there.

Read: Flooding, power cuts reported around Ireland following heavy rainfall>

Gallery: Flash flooding hits around the country>

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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