BAD weather has caused chaos on roads across Britain.

The AA has had to deal with more than 13,000 break-downs and rescued 603 cars trapped in flood water in the past 24 hours and this morning reported it was receiving 20 calls a minute.

Head of the AA’s special operations team Darron Burness said the organisation was working closely with the Environment Agency, the Highways Agency and emergency services.

“Our teams have rescued drivers who have attempted to drive through deep flood water and have come to grief, in some cases having ignored ‘road closed’ warnings,” he said.

“Don’t think that if you have a 4x4 you are immune from becoming stranded. We have had to pull a number of vehicles that have so-called ‘off road’ capability out of water. Floods don’t count as ‘off road’ terrain.”

The organisation has also reported 70 per cent of cars trapped in flood water have had to be written off due to damage to the engine and electrical systems.

A foot of flood water can be enough to float a car, possibly sweeping it into deeper water.

Tony Rich from the AA said breakdowns were up from the usual 9,000 per day in the run up to Christmas.

“The wet and windy weather finds a car’s weak spots as water gets in to electrical components,” he said. “Flat batteries, cars that won’t start and electrical faults are the most common cause of breakdowns today.

“We have also attended hundreds of members who have either got stuck in floods or their car has broken down having gone through standing water. “The bad weather also means that we’re attending a high number of members with flat tyres or wheel damage, after hitting potholes that are full of water or other debris on the roads.”

He said the mix of people rushing to be with their families or do some last minute shopping was making conditions on the roads particularly hazardous.

“Many motorists have little choice but to take on journeys that they might otherwise put off and with many train services disrupted some are taking to the road rather than go by train,” he said.

“Christmas is a special time for families so drivers really should take extra care to ensure that they get to their destination safely.

“Plan your journey, take heed of weather and traffic warnings on local radio, check your route before you set off and don’t attempt to negotiate roads that are flooded or damaged by the weather.

“It’s far better to take twice as long to get to your family and arrive safely than take risks.”