Have you ever skidded on a wet road for what seemed like a couple of seconds or even longer? Even if you didn't lose complete control, you were most likely to experience hydroplaning.
What Is Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning is typically used to refer to skidding and sliding of car tires across a wet surface. Hydroplaning happens when a tire receives more rain than it can expel. Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is separated from the road surface by a thin film of water and ends up losing traction. The outcome is a loss of steering, braking, and control of power.
Rubber tires have grooves that designed to channel water from underneath the tire. It creates higher contact with the road surface and can help prevent and mitigate the incidence of hydroplaning.
When Does Hydroplaning Occur?
Hydroplaning can happen on any wet road surface, but the first 10 minutes of light rain can be the most dangerous.
If light rain combines with oil stains on the road surface, this causes slippery conditions that can force cars, particularly those reaching speeds of more than 35 mph, to use a hydroplane. This could be a deadly combination for the driver and the nearby drivers.
The likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle accident increases in bad weather conditions such as fog, rain, ice, and snow. However, it is not necessarily the heavy rain and blinding snow that is the most dangerous; it is the slick conditions that drivers are not prepared for.
What To Do When You’re Hydroplaning
Below are some tips to keep in mind if you’re in the state of hydroplaning.
Be Calm, Easy On The Gas Pedal
Though you may be tempted to slam your brakes once you lose control of your vehicle, it's not what you should do. Instead, stay calm and relax your foot off the gas pedal. This is going to allow the car to slow down on its own. You should maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and steer the vehicle in the direction you want.
In order to understand how you're going to break in this case, you need to know if your car has normal or anti-lock brakes. If you have normal brakes, use gentle pumps instead of steady-state pressure. But, if your car has anti-lock brakes –as almost all modern cars do – you may be able to break naturally (this doesn't mean you're slamming the brakes). Once your tires get back in touch with the ground, you should start slowing down.
Once you've slowed down and are actually driving on the road again, you can regain control of your vehicle and start driving normally. Remember that when it's raining, or when it's just wet outside, you need to drive slower than you would under ideal conditions.
One important thing to keep in mind when driving in the rain is that you should avoid the use of cruise control. If your car is set to cruise control when you encounter a deep puddle, cruise control can actually cause your vehicle to speed up, which is not something you want to do. Plus, in order to deactivate the cruise control, you need to brake and, as we have established, braking is not the immediate response you should have when you start hydroplaning.
Another aspect is tire maintenance: having the car tires properly inflated and rotating and changing them as needed can help you out when the roads get wet. You don't want to make it any worse for yourself when you're struggling with bad weather conditions.