Pensioners more likely to take flood risks than make a U-turn

14 Nov 2016 11:38 AM

Survey shows drivers aged 65 and over take more risks in flood water than any other age group.

Older drivers take more risks in wet weather, according to a new survey* released as part of the Environment Agency’s flood action campaign.

The survey of AA members reveals that almost half (49%) of those over 65 would drive through flood water compared with 40% of 18 to 24-year-olds. Overall, 48% of drivers in the UK would put themselves in danger by driving through flood water.

The Environment Agency and AA are reminding people that attempting to drive through flood water can be life-threatening. The organisations say that no-one should take the risk, pointing out that just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float a car.

In the last 5 years, the AA has been called out to almost 23,000** flood rescues. Many of these could have been avoided if people had checked flood warnings before they travelled. The Environment Agency’s flood warning service is free and updated every 15 minutes.

John Curtin, Executive Director of Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said:

The sheer number of people of all ages who wouldn’t think twice about a potentially fatal decision to drive through a flood is deeply worrying. Our message is simple: don’t.

It’s so easy to check if your route is affected by flooding: our warnings and alerts are updated every 15 minutes. If you see flood water on the road ahead, you should avoid unnecessary misery and turn around and go another way.

Olly Kunc, Director of Road Operations at the AA, says:

While it’s easy to assume it will never happen to you, even the most experienced driver could be out of their depth in flood water. Last year, more than 2,500 AA members became stranded while attempting to pass through a waterlogged road.

Even a small amount of water ingested through the air intake will wreck the engine, while 30cm of fast-flowing water could float your car. Flood water is dangerous and masks other hazards, so it’s just not worth the risk to you, your passengers and those who have to rescue you for the sake of a few miles’ detour.

For 7 years, the top 3 places in the UK for flood rescues have remained the same. Rufford Lane in Newark, Nottinghamshire, Watery Gate Lane in Leicester and Houndsfield Lane in Shirley, Solihull are all fords. The Environment Agency recommends that people stay away from swollen rivers, flood water, and coastal roads in a storm.

Faced with a road completely covered in standing flood water, only 26% of men would turn around and go another way compared with 38% of women. Drivers in the North East and South East (excluding London) were the most likely to carry on driving (51%). Drivers in London were the least likely to risk driving through flood water.

Asked if they knew for certain that severe heavy rain and possible flooding was going to affect a planned car journey, only 41% of respondents said they would choose a different route. Women were more likely to cancel their journey altogether (30%) compared to men (25%).

Notes to editors

  • *Populus received 19,018 responses from AA members to its online poll between 10 and 18 October 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • **AA responded to 22,817 flood call-outs in the last 5 years – October 2011 to October 2016.