4 steps to driving safely when roads flood

8 February 2023

Driving on water-covered roads can be dangerous for drivers and their passengers. Hazards may lurk in seemingly-innocent puddles and pools of water.

Any amount of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. And you won’t know how deep the water is, or what’s hidden below the surface, until you’re in it.

Melting snow and ice, or flooding from heavy rain or rising streams and rivers, can create puddles and pools of water that hide damaged pavement and other hazards. The water can wash the road away or cause sinkholes. The earth under the pavement could be so saturated that it’s ready to give way.

And in temperatures near freezing, the water can become treacherous ice.

So how do you safely navigate flooded roads? Whether you drive for work or pleasure, follow these 4 steps:

1. Avoid floaded roads and pooling water

Know before you go by checking DriveBC.ca or traffic reports for road conditions. If the route you usually take is under water, find another one.

2. Be extra cautious when water on roads is flowing

About 30 cm of rushing water can float most cars, and 61 cm can carry away SUVs and trucks.

3. Cross slowly through water, 1 vehicle at a time

If you have to drive through standing water, first watch other vehicles to see how they fare. But remember, vehicles have different weights and traction so yours may respond differently.

Cross 1 vehicle at a time and take it slow and steady. The deeper the water, the lower your speed. Driving too fast could cause tires to lose contact with the road. Use the vehicle’s lowest gear, even with an automatic transmission.

4. Think about your vehicle too

The safety of you and your passengers is the first priority. Think too about potential damage to your vehicle.

Water deeper than the centre of your wheels can damage delicate electrical components. They sit under the seat, in the side sections of the trunk floor, and in the engine compartment. If you drive through water higher than about 10 cm, it’s a good idea to have a qualified technician check the brakes and cables, axles, and electronic component.