What Is Hydroplane Driving, and What Do You Do?
We might not see a ton of rain here in sunny Arizona, but when it does come down, low visibility isn’t the only danger you’ll face when driving. Hydroplaning can occur, too.
Here’s what you need to know about hydroplaning and what you need to do if it happens to you.
What Is Hydroplaning? How Does It Happen?
First of all, what is hydroplaning? Normally, the weight of your vehicle is heavy enough to cut through any water when you’re driving on wet surfaces. But sometimes, your vehicle can’t push the water away, and the water can actually raise your vehicle off the ground and cause you to lose control.
There are many different factors that can decrease or increase your chances of hydroplaning, including:
- Vehicle weight: The lighter your vehicle is, the higher your chances are of hydroplaning.
- Vehicle speed: While hydroplaning could occur at just about any speed, it’s much more likely to happen when you’re going above 35 miles per hour.
- Road surface: Driving on asphalt with more grooves in it makes you less susceptible to hydroplaning.
- Tire tread: The more tread there is on your tires, the better they’ll be able to break up the surface tension of the water and maintain contact with the ground.
How Can You Prevent Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning can be unnerving and downright scary. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize your chances of hydroplaning.
Drive the appropriate speed
You should never go above the speed limit, but this is even more imperative when navigating wet roads. Think of it this way: the fastest you should go is the fastest speed at which you can safely operate on the road under the current conditions (even if that means going slower than the speed limit).
Check your tire pressure daily
Before you hit the road, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Both underinflated and overinflated tires can cause your tires to lose traction and make your vehicle more likely to hydroplane.
Replace your tires regularly
Don’t wait until you hydroplane to get your tires replaced. When tires have deep tread, there is less surface area in contact with the water, and the grooves are able to break the water’s surface tension and keep you on the ground.
Be aware of the road surface
The road itself can affect your chances of hydroplaning, so pay attention and look ahead while you drive. Modern roads are typically built with grooves that evacuate the water from the road. However, no matter where you’re driving, watch out for puddles and standing water, and adjust your speed accordingly.
If You Do Hydroplane, Here’s What to Do.
Hydroplaning can happen to anyone, no matter how prepared they are. When you do start to lose control, these are the tips you need to follow.
Hydroplaning can certainly be scary. But you need to do your best to remain calm so you can think clearly and get yourself out of the situation safely.
DON’T SLAM YOUR BRAKES
Slamming your brakes may be your gut reaction, but doing so can make things worse. Instead, you should simply release your foot from the gas. If you absolutely must brake, you should gently tap on the brakes until you feel your car has stopped hydroplaning.
GENTLY TURN YOUR VEHICLE
Carefully turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is skidding. This will help your tires get realigned and help you regain control of the car. In some cases, you may be forced to steer, but you always want to avoid any sudden movements as they could cause a complete spinout.
WAIT TO REGAIN TRACTION
Hydroplaning usually only lasts a few seconds. But no matter what, the best thing to do is stay calm, follow the right steps, and wait for the skid to end.
What to know more about how to safely navigate the road? Register for a Stop and Go driving class today and learn about all different kinds of driving situations.