Monday, 17 February 2014

Motoring "Floodgates"

David Cameron has quite rightly described the flooding which has hit the South of England this year is a “tragedy” . Whilst the flooding itself is something over which motorists have no control, we have highlighted a couple of specific flooding related issues that could have an impact on your driving licence and pocket.

Road closures:

Understandably, due to the uncertain and unpredictable depth of flooding in certain parts of the roads, along with the risks of driving through them, steps have been taken to close a number of roads which are deemed unsafe.

These signs are there for a reason and should be obeyed. Failing to adhere to temporary road signage warning of flooding could result in a prosecution and fine, usually costing around £60.00. 

However, there are far more costly ramifications of being stranded along a road flooded road. The vehicle could be damaged to such an extent that it is written off, and the driver could be at risk of injury or even death. 

Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users:

Even where a road is not closed due to flooding, all drivers are at risk of receiving penalty points when driving on wet roads if you do not take extra care due to the higher risk of skidding etc. 

A less common scenario that could result in the prosecution of motorists is connected to the interaction between the motorist and pedestrians during wet weather spells. 

In 2005 a gentleman from Somerset received three penalty points and a fine of £150 for accidentally soaking workmen. A further case in 2009 saw a professional female lady prosecuted for filming her “happy splashing” and posting the video on YouTube.  


Driving through puddles and deliberately soaking pedestrians could result in between 3-9 penalty points if the driver is found to have driven without reasonable consideration for other road users, regardless of any intention to splash. Deliberate attempts to drive closer to the pavement in an aim to soak pedestrians could result in loss of control of the vehicle, putting the safety of innocent pedestrians at risk.  The Crown must prove that another person was inconvenienced as a result of the motorist’s actions. This can be easily established in the case of an innocent pedestrian waiting at a bus stop who is drenched as a result of a driver who fails take appropriate consideration.

Whilst the potential to prosecute motorists for this offence is widely known by those in legal circles, most pedestrians are unaware of the formal punishment that the offenders may face and therefore most never report the offence.

Our Advice

We expect those affected by the floods will be preoccupied by the emergency measures being taken to prevent the loss of life and property. However, we may yet see a rise in flooding related motoring prosecutions.

As with the majority of steps that can be taken to avoid committing a motoring offence, motorists are advised to take care both of themselves and other road users, and employ a degree of common sense when driving in wet conditions. 

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