Many of us delight in watching Jeeps or Range Rovers water ford, but these crossings are usually set against the backdrop of gnarly trails or off-road expeditions. The kind of water crossing that’s deep enough to disable, or hydrolock, a car is not something we usually see on city or town roads.
Maybe that’s why drivers keep underestimating the crossing at Rufford Lane:
This giant puddle of NOPE is in Newark, Nottinghamshire, in the UK and remains one of the top locations for breakdowns due to flood damage, according to UK officials. The thing is, it’s somewhat avoidable, as the many videos from YouTube channel BENGREGERS show.
Some of the daredevil drivers that risk the water crossing do make it across. Those that go slow and steady, and avoid what the YouTuber referred to as “the bowl wave” tend to make it through, sometimes doing so in cars you fully expect will break down, like the myriad hatchbacks that try crossing. Of course, a slew of Land Rovers also make it across, even if they’re not as careful as others, but that’s expected.
It’s those drivers that just plow into the floodwater in woefully unprepared sports sedans that usually end up with a disabled machine and have to be towed out. You can actually see the water come out of one or two of the BMW’s tailpipes in some of the videos. Ouch.
The BBC looked into why the hell these drivers keep on breaking their cars, instead of driving the four-mile detour to avoid the floodwater. The BBC asked Dr. William Van Gordon, a psychology professor at the University of Derby, for help explaining this, and he said it’s mostly about false confidence:
Driving can give us a false sense of control...
Because we are in control of the car, we also think we are in control of the road and that just isn’t the case.
Around 80-90% of drivers think they are of above-average driving ability. That combines with habitual patterns - if people are in the habit of using the road without difficulty, they tend to believe they will never experience problems.
People who consider themselves to have a high driving ability are more likely to try than others who aren’t so confident. It also comes down to a general lack of awareness that flooded roads pose a risk.
In general, we are poor at assessing risk when it comes to driving.
Yeah. That tracks. Poor risk assessment is endemic to BMW drivers — I can confirm. Of course, Rufford Lane has claimed more than its fair share of makes and models, but all those Bimmers speeding across and promptly breaking down hit me hard.
That kind of water crossing and that leap of faith driving a BMW into thirty centimeters (at least) of water, only to break down is my nightmare. If I ever go on a world driving tour, please remind me to avoid that part of Nottinghamshire in my BMW compact, which I’m sure would break down not even having reached the ford’s halfway point.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)