Press release

Two-thirds of motorists would risk their lives in a flood

A survey by the Environment Agency and AA reveals two-thirds of drivers would risk their lives in flood

A shocking two-thirds of drivers would gamble with their safety by driving through floodwater
A shocking two-thirds of drivers would gamble with their safety by driving through floodwater

A shocking two-thirds of drivers would gamble with their safety by driving through floodwater – even though this is the leading cause of death during a flood, new figures have revealed.

In a survey commissioned by the Environment Agency and the AA, 68% of motorists admitted they’d take the risk rather than find a safer route.

The alarming figures emerge as the Environment Agency runs its campaign warning people across the country to be prepared for flooding in advance by checking their risk and signing up for free warnings

The AA has rescued more than 14,500 drivers from floods since 2013 with the top spot being Rufford Lane in Newark, Nottinghamshire, where over 100 rescues have been carried out in the last 5 years.

Driving through floodwater puts the lives of drivers and their passengers on the line, risks the safety of emergency responders, and often causes serious damage to the vehicle, with three-quarters of flood-damaged cars ultimately being written off.

Caroline Douglass, Director of Incident Management and Resilience at the Environment Agency, said:

The results of this survey are extremely concerning – no one should put their own life or those of their friends and family at risk during a flood. Just 30cm of water can float a family car, and smaller cars take even less.

If you’re driving long distances this winter, please check online for any flood warnings in force along your route, and if you find your way blocked by floodwater, never take the risk – turn around and find another way.

Vince Crane, AA Patrol of the Year, said:

If the road ahead is flooded, don’t chance it - flood water can be deceptively deep and can mask other hazards on the road.

It only takes an egg-cupful of water to be sucked into your engine to wreck it and on many cars, the engine’s air intake is low down at the front.

As well as the damage to your car, attempting to drive through flood water puts you and your passengers in danger - so it’s just not worth the risk.

The survey of more than 18,000 AA members, carried out by Populus also found that:

  • Women in Yorkshire and Humber are the safest drivers in a flood, being the least likely to attempt to drive through flood water and the most likely to turn around and find another route.
  • Men in the South East and East of England are most likely to put themselves and their passengers in danger by driving through flood water – with nearly 3/4 (74%) saying that they would risk driving through rather than find an alternative route.
  • Under a third of all drivers would turn around and find another route if their way was blocked by flood water.
  • Men are more likely to drive through flood water than women – with 72% admitting that they would try it, compared with 60% of women.

  • People under 34 are slightly less likely to drive through flood water than those 35 and above, while the under-24s in London are the least likely to drive through flood water.

5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding. This winter the Environment Agency is encouraging people to be prepared and stay safe during flooding by checking their flood risk online.

For more information on driving in heavy rain and standing water visit the AA’s website.

The top 10 spots for rescues from flood water January 2013 – December 2017 were:

Location Breakdown
Rufford lane, Newark, Nottingham 101
Slash Lane, Barrow upon Soar, Loughborough 77
Houndsfield Lane, Shirley, Solihull 47
Bridgenorth Road, Trescott, Wolverhampton 39
Riverside, Eynsford, Dartford, Kent 39
Bucklebury, West Berkshire 32
Mountsorrel, Loughborough 31
Hawkswood Lane, Fulmer, Gerrards Cross 31
Winterbourne, Wiltshire 30
Mill Lane, Brockenhurst, Hampshire 30
Published 18 February 2018