Four out of five 18 to 34-year-old drivers in the North East 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 (EA) and the AA, 80.5 per cent of young motorists in the North East admitted they’d take the risk rather than find a safer route compared to 68 per cent overall.
The alarming figures emerge as the EA 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 more than 100 rescues have been carried out in the last five 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 EA, 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, added: "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:
In the North East, men are more likely to drive through flood water than women – with 73 per cent admitting that they would try it, compared with 57 per cent of women.
Overall, people under 34 are slightly less likely to drive through flood water than those 35 and above, with the exception of those in the North East who are more likely to drive through flood water than those 35 or above.
Just 16 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds in the North East would to turn around and find another route.
Under a third of all drivers would turn around and find another route if their way was blocked by flood water.
In total, 5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding. This winter, the EA is encouraging people to be prepared and stay safe during flooding – visit https://floodsdestroy.campaign.gov.uk/
For more information on driving in heavy rain and standing water, see https://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/seasonal/driving-through-flood-water