Tag Archive | "dangerous roads"

Driving Through Floods.

Britain has experienced, if that’s the right word, the most rain in 248 years and it’s not showing any sign of stopping. This presents more and, for many, new challenges when driving on our soaked highways. Here’s some advice for dealing with any flooded roads drivers might find themselves encountering.

For starters and rather obviously, it is best to avoid flooded roads altogether. Basically, if a driver knows a road is at risk he shouldn’t go down it at all. Nevertheless, we must all prepare for the unexpected. Essentially, for most cars except massive 4×4’s, fifteen centimetres is about as much as the average car can manage.

The answer is to get out and check. The water will usually be most shallow on the crown of the road. If it is deep there then it will be deeper along the sides. Try to establish visual markers; the height of the water against traffic signs for example, or indeed, stranded vehicles. If in doubt, don’t.

When it comes to road speed through water then less is definitely more in safety terms. Enter the water at no more than four or five miles per hour. Tick-over in first gear may be faster than this so there’s a need to slip the clutch in order not to go too quickly. Keeping the engine revving prevents water sneakily entering via the exhaust pipe.

It is necessary to go this slowly because the car needs to push the water aside, creating a depression in front to prevent the engine sucking in water through its air intake. The faster you go the more the water is disturbed then a bow wave is created and there is more likelihood that the engine will flood. If there are other cars coming in the opposite direction then wait for a turn. Their actions could result in your engine becoming flooded.

Once through, gently apply the brakes to remove excess water from the pads. If the engine sounds odd then it might have swallowed some water. Driving a misfiring car could cause more damage. Stop immediately and seek help. Ideally of course, avoid driving altogether if your district is afflicted with floods; but if you must go out then try to remember these wise words.

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Is Your Journey Worth It?

The other day Motor Blogger had to drive to the coast. Fortunately it was in a Jaguar XF (pictured) because the weather was foul. At times the rain was torrential, necessitating a very careful approach to driving.

By the time you read this the UK will have experienced one of those storms we see only about once a decade. Nevertheless, people still have to go about their business but, in severe weather, it is essential to pose the question to yourself – is my journey worth the risk?

If you really have to go out on the roads then there are certain things that can be done to at least counter in a small way the effects of driving under the influences of rain and wind.

First off – it is crucial to plan the journey. Is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees? Choose a sheltered route if you have the option. Strong winds are not constant, they are usually gusty so ensure you keep a firmer grip than usual on the steering wheel.

As you may have found in the past when crossing high bridges and the like, there is often the risk of crosswinds. It’s possible to get the same effect from overtaking high-sided vehicles. There can sometimes be a strong gust as you clear the lee of the lorry.

Remember too that others are suffering the same issues. Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual. They get blown around by side winds easily. It’s not even unheard of for pedestrians to be blown about or even blown into the path of on-coming motors.

Watch trees and bushes on the roadside – their branches can show you how strong the wind is and what direction it is blowing. BY looking well ahead, you don’t need to take your eye off the road and you can see any windy patches before you get to them at which point speed can be lowered until the vehicle is slow enough to cope with the gusts and associated handling issues. Wind can get under a car and reduce its handling and braking significantly. Keep an eye on what is happening to other vehicles – seeing when they are affected will give you advanced warning.

Heavy rain obscures the view, often despite the best efforts of windscreen wipers. As MB found the other day, there comes a point when it becomes prudent to stop at the first safe opportunity.

With wind and rain comes debris. Leaves make a road slippery and branches or even fallen trees are an obvious hazard. The trouble is – a driver doesn’t know they are there. All that can be done is to be aware and anticipate the worst. Or not make the journey at all!

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The Most Dangerous Roads In The World

Much is written on this subject and usually it forms part of the warnings and advice freely doled out to unwary drivers planning to travel beyond these shores, or indeed, just up the road.

For example, this writer has had personal experience of the ‘Ruta de la Muerte’ on the south coast of Spain. Fortunately there is now a major road for safety’s sake but it is easy to miss the turn out of Malaga and end up on the coast road at which point the hunched and terrified driver, white-knuckled hands gripping the steering wheel, will still encounter massive trucks, sozzled Spaniards and boozy, beery Brits who left their brains behind in Bromsgrove.

Depending upon who you ask, Spain has several ‘roads of death’ and the name can also be found in every other Spanish speaking country. In Norway they have the Trollstigen (The Troll Ladder – is it any wonder that trolls get such a bad press?) and Italy the Stelvio Pass. Even in the UK we have roads to die for and they are many and various. Mention the Peak District’s Cat and Fiddle to any automotive health and safety officer and you’re sure to provoke a reaction. Basically, it depends where you live.

The A682 between junction 13 of the M65 and Long Preston has a very bad reputation yet it doesn’t even appear on a BBC News top ten dangerous roads listing from 2010.

The road outside your children’s school could well head the list merely because you deem it so. There need not have been any injuries or fatalities – a near miss will turn mild-mannered parents into car-hating zealots overnight. This is an understandable reaction and this brings us finally to the point.

Traffic rules and regulations abound. Never a day seems to go by when there isn’t another restriction put in place and yet still people die on dangerous roads. Why? It’s a bit of a conundrum. Do some drivers and riders see these highways as a challenge? Does a red mist descend when the long and winding road appears? Whatever the cause, there seems to be a point at which the rules cease to have meaning to some people.

Most motorists understand the clear and present dangers inherent in operating a car. They enjoy their driving but draw the line at recklessness. Ultimately all roads are the most dangerous roads in the world. They are made dangerous by daredevils and the terminally stupid. The problem is, an attitude of mind is hard to legislate against. At some point we need to learn the lesson before cars become nothing more than state controlled shuttles.

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