What is hydroplaning?
April showers may bring May flowers but did you know they can also cause more accidents? Aquaplaning or Hydroplaning occurs when driving on wet roads, and can happen in an instant. When your vehicle hydroplanes, your vehicle completely loses contact with the road and is actually riding on the water. In wet weather you need to be aware – driving across a wet surface can cause your tires to lose their gripping power, and you to lose control of the vehicle.
The 3 main factors that contribute to hydroplaning:
Vehicle speed. As speed increases, wet traction is considerably reduced. Since hydroplaning can result in a complete loss of traction and vehicle control, you should always reduce speed & pay attention to your surroundings.
Tire tread depth. As your tires become worn, their ability to resist hydroplaning is reduced.
Water depth. The deeper the water, the sooner you will lose traction, although even thin water layers can cause a loss of traction, including at low speeds.
What you should not do if your vehicle starts to hydroplane:
Don’t brake suddenly. Hydroplaning is a loss of traction to the front tires. Sudden braking slows the front tires but can lock the rear tires, and cause a spin out.
Don’t accelerate suddenly. Sudden acceleration can pull the vehicle straight ahead which could be dangerous if, for instance, the vehicle is pointed toward the edge of the roadway when it regains traction.
Don’t use cruise control. When cruise control is engaged, your vehicle may recognize the buildup of water as slowing down and send more power to the wheels. This may cause the car to shift to a lower gear and build even more water under the tires.
What you can do:
Depending on the type of vehicle you are in: – If you are in a front wheel drive with or without ABS and traction control or a rear wheel drive with ABS and traction control and you begin to hydroplane, look for open space and plan to travel in that direction. Stay lightly on the accelerator and steer gently toward the open space you have identified. – If you are in a rear wheel drive without ABS and traction control look for open space and plan to travel in that direction. Ease off the accelerator and steer toward the open space you have identified
Check your tire tread often. Although thin water layers can cause a loss of traction, as your tires become worn, their ability to resist hydroplaning is reduced. Place a penny upside down in your tread. If Lincoln’s head is hidden, your tread is thick enough. If the tread doesn’t hide Lincoln’s head, your tread is too thin and you should consider purchasing new tires.
If you do wind up hydroplaning, don’t panic — the situation is manageable if you remain calm. Don’t slam on the brakes, don’t accelerate, don’t over steer and keep the nose of your vehicle pointed straight ahead. You should begin to slow and regain control.