Tips To Handle Hydroplaning And Stay Safe On Wet, Slippery Roads

Hydroplaning Explained And How To Handle It

Hydroplaning Explained And How To Handle It

Hydroplaning. A chief culprit of loss of vehicle control in inclement rainy conditions. It’s undoubtedly a daunting scenario for any driver, whether it lasts for an instant or several seconds. So, when can hydroplaning take place, or better yet, what to do when your car hydroplanes?

How Does Hydroplaning Occur?

Hydroplaning happens when there’s more water on the road than your car can push as it moves forward. This builds up pressure, causing your vehicle to slide on a layer of water between the tyres and the road surface. The loss of traction when the contact patch of your tyre no longer contacts the road surface ultimately reduces a driver’s ability to steer and brake.

It’s worth noting that it isn’t necessarily the pounding rain that poses a risk. Depending on how bald your tyres are or how under-inflated they are, any wet road surface following light rain can turn dangerous as it makes the available traction in your tyres disappear. Hydroplaning is also more likely to occur when driving at higher speeds.

What To Do If Your Car Hydroplanes

You’ve been caught up in the rain, only to feel the steering wheel go light in your hands. Now what? How do you recover amid the slippery wetness when you’ve entered a skid? First off, remain calm and resist the urge to panic. Ease off the gas and maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel.

If you’re sliding straight, keep the wheel straight while allowing your car to slow down naturally. If you’re sliding towards the edge of a turn, gently steer in the direction the car is moving in. Remember to keep track of your tyre positions; you don’t want them turned too sharply when traction returns. Stay composed until you feel the car regain its grip on the road.

Lessen The Chances Of Hydroplaning

While hydroplaning can happen to anyone, regardless of skill level, there are factors that can influence a tyre’s ability to resist it.

Take Care of Your Tyres: Regularly check your tyres for signs of wear, like uneven tread or low tread depth. Keeping your tyres properly inflated improves traction on wet roads, as underinflated tyres can reduce grip. It also helps to have the tyres rotated and balanced regularly.

Avoid Standing Water: Stay away from large puddles or areas of standing water when possible, as they increase the risk of hydroplaning. When it’s raining heavily, turn on your headlights for better visibility and watch out for deep puddles.

Slow Down: When it starts to rain, the oil on the road mixes with the rainwater to produce a slippery substance that can be extremely dangerous, especially at higher speeds. Reduce your speed, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, keep an eye out for other skidding drivers and turn off cruise control. Also, avoid sudden acceleration, sharp manoeuvres, and hard braking in heavy rain.

Follow Existing Tracks: Try to drive in the tyre tracks left by other vehicles. Their tyres have already displaced some water, giving you better grip and contact with the road.

Before you find yourself sliding across the highway on a layer of water, it’s good to know what to do. Learning how to avoid hydroplaning, and getting back control if it happens is critical to keeping you safe when driving in wet and slippery conditions.

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