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Tips for driving through Tampa Bay's flooded streets

Tropical Storm Debby has flooded streets throughout the Tampa Bay area, creating havoc for motorists.

The best thing to do is avoid driving through floodwaters at all. "It doesn't take real deep water to cause an engine to stall, especially with today's cars being so close to the ground," said Max Lewis, manager of Downtown Auto in St. Petersburg.

But if you must drive, here's advice to keep from getting stuck:

• Keep an eye on the car in front of you, to get a sense of how deep the water is. "If it's touching the bumper, don't go," said Lewis.

• Proceed as slowly as possible, with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake. Pump your brakes to keep them dry.

• Driving fast might seem like a good way to get through high water, but you actually run the risk of sucking more water into the engine.

• If it's a two-lane street, drive in the center of the road if possible, taking turns with motorists in the other direction. That's the crown of the road, its highest point.

• If your car stalls, it likely will not start back up. "If it does, it's luck or a fluke," Lewis said. You may need to proceed on foot.

• If you've driven through an area that's been flooded with brackish or saltwater, you should have your vehicle's undercarriage washed.