by: Ursula Nizalowski
Also called ‘aquaplaning’ according to Driving-Tests.org, hydroplaning is the liquid equivalent to sliding across an icy road in a car. Only this time, the car is skidding along a road that’s wet instead of frozen. How hydroplaning occurs is when the water on a wet road pushes against a car’s tires and creates a liquid film that leads to the car losing traction. In turn, the driver loses control of their vehicle as they end up going with the flow of the water so to speak. Now the chances of hydroplaning go up during bad weather, so it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for this kind of situation.
What To Do
1) Properly Maintain Tires and Replace Them As Necessary
Having tires with good treads goes a long way to preventing hydroplaning as they can create “higher friction with the road surface” SafeMotorist.com says which leads to less sliding on a slick road. So it’s recommended that drivers should get their car’s tires rotated and balanced on a regular basis by a professional mechanic, which involves having the tires removed and weighed on their level of balance before getting switched with the back tires going to the front or vice versa. Though if you live in an area where rainfall is constant, replacing one’s tires with new ones wouldn’t hurt either.
2) Reduce Speed
Like with ice, the chances of hydroplaning increase when the driver is going considerably fast along the road. The typical threshold for hydroplaning is 35 mph and higher. For this reason, it is safer to go a little slower than the typical speed limit when there’s bad weather coming up.
3) Avoid Puddles of Water
When there’s standing water on the road in the form of puddles, don’t go near them. Because all it takes is “a small film of water to cause hydroplaning” as stated by Driving-Tests.org. Even with good tires, it’s not worth taking the risk.
What Not To Do
1) Use Cruise Control
A common feature in modern vehicles, cruise control allows one to automatically drive at a consistent speed over an extended period of time. While cruise control can be beneficial with saving on gas and reducing the risk of speeding, it perpetuates drowsiness and reduces one’s reaction time to unexpected situations according to the Bottaro Law Firm’s blog. This is especially problematic when it comes to bad weather, because if a vehicle is hydroplaning while on cruise control it’ll take extra time to regain control of the car manually.
2) Drive Along Outer Lanes
Often used for passing other vehicles, the outer lane refers to the part of the road that’s close to the edges where the sidewalks usually are as shown here: https://tmpe.viathinksoft.com/wiki/index.php?title=Inner_%26_outer_lanes. This is also referred to as the left lane, which is often used to pass other vehicles on a multi-lane road. But it’s also where water “tends to accumulate,” according to SafeMotorist.com, so it would be best to not drive along this part of the road during bad weather in case of hydroplaning.
3) Make Hard Brakes or Sharp Turns
If hydroplaning occurs in spite of taking the above precautions, it is strongly advised to not brake suddenly or make a sharp turn on the road. This may lead to one’s car skidding out of control due to the lack of traction caused by the wet surface. From there, such an act could result in an accident.
How To Deal With The Aftermath
1) Turn Steering Wheel In Direction Car Is Going
While hydroplaning often leads to a lack of control of one’s vehicle, it’s not impossible to get out of. The first step is to begin realigning one’s tires with the road’s surface, and that requires turning the steering wheel in the same direction the car is hydroplaning along. It will not only “help your tires realign with the direction your vehicle is traveling,” but also assist “in regaining steering control” Driving-Tests.org says.
2) Wait For Tires To Reconnect With Road
Because humans are prone to easily panic, it seems counterintuitive to wait during emergency situations. Though the best way to deal with certain situations is to be patient, as is the case for hydroplaning. Once the vehicle is aligned in the direction it’s skidding towards, it will eventually reconnect with the surface of the road.
3) Pull Over
After going through a stressful ordeal such as hydroplaning, it doesn’t hurt to pull over to a side of the road that’s relatively dry. From there, one can get calm and collected before moving on. Because while we live in a fast-paced society that feels like it doesn’t have time to slow down, being a calm driver is better than becoming an aggressive one.
For any hydroplaning accidents that do occur, though, feel free to contact attorney Rick Wagner.