Slip ‘N Slide in the backyard? Fun. Slipping and sliding all over the road when you’re driving your car on a rainy day? Terrifying. Let’s take a look at what’s happening when a vehicle is aquaplaning, aka hydroplaning.
When a vehicle hydroplanes, the tires lose traction with the road and skid over the surface of water. Obviously, you should avoid driving through deep puddles of water if possible. Even small amounts of water on the street can cause a vehicle to hydroplane. This type of traction loss can temporarily keep your from steering or braking. Prevent hydroplaning by reducing your speed if it’s raining or has recently rained. It doesn’t have to be pouring outside for hydroplaning to happen. Speed and road surface conditions are the major factors in hydroplaning. Make all your vehicle movements (including braking and accelerating) gradual and careful. This is the best way to avoid skidding whether the roads are wet or not.
If It Happens to You
If you feel your vehicle start to hydroplane, try not to panic. Keep your hands on the wheel and steer in a safe direction while applying gradual pressure to your brakes. Slamming on the brake pedal will only make the skidding worse. Avoid jerking the wheel dramatically in the opposite direction. Just keep steering and try to brake gently. Soon, you will feel your vehicle regain traction and stop sliding.
Don’t Tread Lightly
While hydroplaning is always a possibility on wet roads, you can lower your chances by making sure your tires have good tread. Tread is made up of the rubber parts of the tire that actually make contact with the ground. The tread and the hollow grooves in tires work together to channel water away from the tire to reduce hydroplaning. As your tires get older, the rubber wears down and the grooves get more shallow. This can cause the tires to get less effective at their job. You should measure your tire tread once in awhile and replace old tires when necessary. It’s also helpful to keep the right level of air pressure in your tires.Knowing how to control emergency situations like hydroplaning is one of the most important aspects of defensive driving. Make sure to check out the rest of our safe driving videos for more defensive driving tips to keep you in control on the road!