On February 9th after heavy rainfall caused flooding on the roads, yet another driver with misplaced confidence met their match in Great Easton's ford, adding to the ever-growing list of vehicles that have become stuck at this spot over the years.  


The incident occurred when a driver, unfamiliar with the area, attempted to travel through the flood in his van despite warning signs and the depth gauge being at around 4 foot deep, only to find his vehicle swiftly become immobilised in the fast-moving water. As efforts were made to remove the van from the ford, a further setback occurred when tools from within the vehicle were stolen overnight.  


This echoes many similar incidents at this location with drivers continuing to disregard caution, often with disastrous consequences. This had led to concerns within the community about road safety and the need for increased awareness amongst drivers. A local resident in Great Easton describes how “after heavy rain it's become almost inevitable that someone will try to cross the flooded ford and get stuck. Flood warning signs are always put out and visible, I don’t know what more we can do as a village, people are in such a hurry, they’d rather take risks than drive a longer way round”. 


One of the most notorious incidents at the ford occurred back in December of 2019 when a driver of a BMW tried to cross the flood. They soon became stuck and whilst the driver escaped, the vehicle was washed beneath the footbridge, drifting downstream into the River Chelmer and leading to a pollution crisis. The incident left the community up in arms, concerned with the environmental impact on the river, the repairs to fix damage to the bridge itself and the great inconvenience it caused residents when the vehicle had to be towed out of the river, which wasn’t until late January. 


The incident emphasised the need for greater vigilance of adverse road conditions and accountability among drivers, particularly when navigating sensitive natural environments. In the wake of the disaster, residents had called for stricter enforcement of road safety measures and harsher penalties for reckless driving. However, five years on and they are still dealing with the same issues. 


According to the Environment Agency, a staggering 74% of individuals would risk driving through floodwater, despite this being the leading cause of death during floods. This shocking statistic highlights the need for the public to start taking this issue more seriously. Essex's presence in the AA’s top ten places for breakdowns due to flood water, with 32 incidents recorded between 2014 and 2018, further emphasises the pressing importance of taking proactive measures. The AA guidance states not to drive into flood water that is moving or more than 10cm deep. 


So, what steps can be taken? As a local community, you can raise awareness about areas that are prone to flooding, perhaps installing clear road signs indicating when it's unsafe to pass through. However, ultimate responsibility lies with drivers, so it's essential to always check the depth gauge before attempting to cross a flooded ford to ensure the water isn't too deep for your vehicle, stay informed about current conditions, and if there's any uncertainty, always find another route.