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22 Jul 2017

Five tips on driving safely on flooded road

Daniel’s journey back home on Saturday was smooth and fun-filled. He had his children and lovely wife in the car, thus, they chatted and cracked jokes. They had gone to attend a wedding in Ibadan and looked forward to being home in Lekki, Lagos in about one and a half hours.
They were already at the popular Redemption Camp in Mowe, Ogun State when the rain started. For someone driving a relatively new saloon car, Daniel foresaw no trouble. Even when the rain was becoming heavy, Daniel was confident they would be home in record time. And given the intensity of the rain, he had to drive at snail speed.

But as they got to Ozumba Mbadiwe Street in Victoria Island, Daniel ran into troubled waters. He kept driving until he made it to the Lekki-Epe Expressway where his car stopped working suddenly.

He recalled, “I thought we could go through it till we would be home, but the rain didn’t subside. The flood was much, especially when we got to the Lekki- Epe Expressway. At that time, some vehicles had already broken down on the road, but I trusted my car. But close to Law School Bus Stop, the vehicle stopped moving and the engine went off. By that time, the water had reached my bonnet.”

Still at loss as to what could have happened, he tried switching on the engine but it never responded. Thus, they had to remain there for a long time until help came their way. “At the end of the day, we had to tow the vehicle and as I’m talking to you, the vehicle is still in the mechanic’s workshop,” he added.

It is inevitable to drive in the rain, but it is not uncommon to see people run into such troubles in the rainy season, even when they follow traffic rules and their vehicle is in good condition. However, to avoid being stuck, there are tips that could help:

If your vehicle stops in a flood:

Like Daniel, many people driving in the rain have found themselves in situations whereby the vehicle would stop working. To a large extent, one could surmise that something could have gone wrong with the vehicle’s electrical system. However, if it happens, the Chief Executive Officer, Automedics, Mr. Kunle Shonaike, says the worst thing to do would be to make an attempt to restart the vehicle, as people are wont to do. He said, “If your vehicle stops in a flood, please make no attempt to start the engine, have the battery completely removed and arrange a tow. Any attempt to start the engine will cause grave damage that will cost a lot of money. So, remove the battery to avoid electrical short circuits and minimal damage to electronic control units. Check the presence of water inside the transmission, if your finding is positive, early repairs may save you buying another transmission. Also, have the transmission system scanned to know what is faulty apart from water in the transmission system.”

Pull over if the water level is much:

If Daniel had known confidence and optimism would not be enough to drive a saloon car through flood, he probably would have pulled over and wait for the rain and the flood water that accompanied it to subside. According to experts, this is one option people rarely consider, because they think there should be no trouble. They warned that it is best to pull over once you find yourself on a flooded road and the rain is not subsiding or if it’s gaining intensity. According to an auto expert and Chief Executive Officer, Auto Care Ltd., Rasaq Toriola, people could discontinue their journey if the rain is continuous and the road is flooded already. He added, “If your vehicle is in good condition, you can give a try, say if you are familiar with the terrain. But people who have bad sight or vision impairment should not try it. Stay where you are until the atmosphere is clear.” He added that driving on a flooded road in traffic has its bad side. He added, “There are things to consider. If there is no traffic jam and you are just driving through the water, which should be at a reasonable level, there should be no problem. But if there is traffic jam, I would advise you not to go inside it because staying there might affect the engine, and the water might find its way into the vehicle.”

Know the level of water that is too much for your vehicle:

Driving on a flooded road can be a tough task, but it should be noted that not every flood water on the road poses danger to the vehicle. According to Toriola, for a sport utility vehicle, the level of the flood water should not be above three feet. Also for a saloon car, the level of the water should not be more than between 1ft. and 1.5ft. He said anything more than these could pose danger for the vehicle, as it could get to some components and cause some damage. “In effect, once the water rises to the level of the vehicle’s bumper, there could be trouble because the water could get into some parts of the engine that could eventually damage.”

Don’t drive in flowing flood water:

Over time, people have believed that the weight of a vehicle is enough to withstand any flowing water, and some people would even speed while driving on flooded roads. But perception might be wrong after all. Video evidences and people’s personal experiences have shown that fast-moving water could sweep off a vehicle. Toriola said the best way out is to avoid such situation. He said, “If the volume of water is much and it is moving with speed, it can sweep a vehicle off the road. The volume of the water, its speed and how big the vehicle is matter in this regard. But overall, people should avoid finding themselves in that situation. If it happens, you need to navigate yourself to a safe place. Once you feel something is not right with the way the water is pushing your vehicle, especially towards its direction of flow, you should navigate to a safe place. The most important is your safety.”

Avoid speeding:

Sometimes people dare the odds to speed even when it’s raining, especially when the vehicle is in good condition and the tyres are very okay. But according to experts, that is not the right way to drive at such times. Toriola says once it is raining, people should drive at relatively low speed. He said the average speed should be between 40 and 60km/h. “In some cases, the road could be slippery and the break might be bad. If you are on speed and there is sudden occurrence, how do you handle it without running into another vehicle or an obstruction? Driving at low speed enables the driver to be in firm control and that is important at such times, especially when you are not familiar with that environment.”

Meanwhile, Toriola advised further that people make sure their vehicle is in good condition before driving in the rain. “If the vehicle is not in good condition and you are stuck, then you have to do double work,” he added. He explained that people should make sure their wiper is effective and efficient, and that people should endeavour to use their air-conditioning system so they could have a clear view of the road ahead. He added, “The purpose of having the air conditioning on is to clear the windscreen. If the water level is okay, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t use it. It’s when the water level is above the normal level that you have to think twice because you don’t want the water to knock off the compressor.”

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