Motorists who delight in driving through puddles and drenching pedestrians could face a £5,000 fine – and in the worst cases cause serious injury.
The warning from Mirfield driving instructor and Kirklees councillor Vivien Lees-Hamilton comes after reports that police in Cambridgeshire are hunting a careless driver who ploughed through a 20ft long puddle to soak mum with a pram.
Clr Lees-Hamilton said there were many reasons for drivers to slow down when driving through puddles, adding: “The first reason is that it is not acceptable behaviour to drive at speed through puddles. It’s not just water you are splashing people with, there’s all the road grit and stones which can do serious damage.
“Even if there’s no pedestrian about and you go through a puddle you cannot see what’s under the surface and what damage something like a pothole can do to your car’s suspension. The cold weather and heavy rain has caused a phenomenal amount of damage to the roads and a lot of new potholes have opened up.”
Clr Lees-Hamilton also warned of the danger of aquaplaning – when the car’s tyres fail to grip the road and are travelling on a sheet of water, causing the driver to lose control. Driving through a puddle on the nearside and aquaplaning on the nearside wheels could cause the car to veer into the kerb, she said.
Clr Lees-Hamilton said: “There’s a ford at Brighouse and we use that quite frequently with the pupils so they learn the correct speed and correct gear to use and when it is better to turn back.
“As much as some people think it’s fun driving through puddles, things can go wrong. Drivers should put themselves in the place of the pedestrians and ask if they would like to be drenched in a great deluge.”
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said “puddle rage” could land a motorist with a £5,000 fine, adding: “To avoid this cost and to ensure their safety, we advise motorists to look out for big puddles when driving and pay particular attention when there are pedestrians around.”
The Road Traffic Act 1998 states that it is illegal to drive “without reasonable consideration for other persons” including “driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed.”
The traffic offence can lead to a maximum fine of £5,000 if it is established that the driver’s behaviour “amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience, or aggressiveness.”