How To Protect Against Hydroplaning When Driving

April 01, 2024
Personal Injury

One of the most important skills to learn when you first start driving is how to drive defensively. This means that your driving style is protecting you against the various things that can go wrong when you are driving.

This is an important skill every day, especially when you are driving in poor weather conditions. 

In this article, we will go over what hydroplaning is, what its risk factors are, and what to do if your vehicle starts hydroplaning. 

If you need help with an accident claim call us at (678) 251-9309. Our Decatur car crash attorneys offer free consultations to discuss the details of your accident and legal options moving forward.

What is Hydroplaning?

If you've ever wondered why so many accidents occur during rainy weather, chances are it was because of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when there is a film of water on the surface of the road and the vehicle loses contact with the road, floating on top of the water instead.

This causes the vehicle to lose traction and makes it much easier to accidentally swerve off the road. 

Risk Factors for Hydroplaning

Although hydroplaning is always a risk during rainy weather, certain factors can make it more common.

cars driving in heavy rain

  • Sudden Braking
  • Vehicle Speed
  • Poor Road Surface
  • Using Cruise Control

Preventing Hydroplaning

To protect against hydroplaning, one of the most important things that you can do is maintain control of the steering wheel. 

Keeping a Firm Grip on the Steering Wheel in Rainy Weather

When driving on wet pavement, you will want to ensure that you maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel. You should also keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times and avoid crossing arms over one another. This can make it more difficult to hand onto the steering wheel if there is a loss of steering. 

How to Respond When You Lose Steering in Heavy Rain

If you have lost steering in heavy rain, the first thing that you will want to do is take your foot off the accelerator. This will allow the speed of your vehicle to gradually lower without having to hit the brakes, which can cause hydroplaning to begin.

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Using small motions and avoiding yanking the steering wheel, you will want to focus on the direction you want to go and make small corrections with the steering wheel.

As the speed of the vehicle decreases, you should regain control of the vehicle and then be able to continue at a steady pace.

Techniques for Regaining Control of the Steering Wheel in Wet Conditions

Losing control of the steering wheel can be a terrifying experience and causes many people to go into a panic. However, by maintaining calm, slowing the car down, and making small corrections, you should be able to regain control of the wheel.

Hydroplaning and Brakes

Another thing that you will want to be very careful of is the use of the brake pedal and any sort of sudden acceleration. On normal, dry road surfaces, using the brakes and speeding up shouldn't cause any issues. However, when the road is wet, problems are much more likely to occur.

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With sudden acceleration, you are greatly increasing your risk of hydroplaning, even with relatively shallow water depth. 

Using the brake pedal can cause the wheels to lock up and completely stop moving. On a dry road, this would cause your vehicle to screech to a halt, but on wet roads, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead, it can cause your vehicle to start skidding which is one of the most common causes of car accidents.

Responding to Sudden Accelerations When Driving in Wet Conditions

When you experience sudden acceleration when driving in wet conditions the main thing that you want to avoid is slamming on the brakes. Instead, you will want to practice controlled braking.

In this context, it means slowly removing your foot from the accelerator without braking. This will allow the vehicle to slowly come to a stop without freezing the tires which can lead to skidding. 

Avoiding Hard Braking on Slippery Pavement

When you break hard on slippery pavement, this causes your tires to immediately stop rotating. When driving through water accumulations, this can cause your tires to stay on top of the water instead of sinking through it, causing hydroplaning.

a car driving through standing water

This is why it is always recommended to practice cautious driving habits, especially when you are driving in slippery conditions. 

Hydroplaning and Tires

Driving with high-quality tires allows the vehicle to grip the road, making it easy to steer the car and have a nice, smooth ride. In contrast, driving with old, worn tires can cause a loss of traction on the road.

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Under normal conditions, this won't cause that big of a problem. However, as soon as any sort of debris, be it mud, ice, or water, gets on the road, you can easily lose control of your car. 

Checking Tire Tread Depth Before Driving in Rainy Weather

Before driving in wet road conditions, you should check your tire tread depth. The easiest way to do this is to look for the wear bar indicator that the majority of tire manufacturers include. These are placed between the treads of the tire. If the top of the tread and the wear bar are even with one another, it is time to replace your tires.

If you can't find the wear bar, there is another super simple trick that you can use to check if you need to replace the tires. You'll need to take a penny and place the penny between the treads. If Lincoln's entire head is visible, that means it is time to replace your tires because there is less than 2/32 of tread left on the tire. 

Understanding Tire Track Patterns in Different Types of Wet Driving Conditions

For those who regularly have to drive in less than ideal conditions, tire manufacturers make multiple tire track patterns. For example, on rain-soaked roads when a hydroplaning situation could occur, asymmetric tire track patterns provide good grip and prevent a loss of control.

For snowy or muddy conditions, directional tread patterns are considered the best option. Knowing the conditions that you will face on the road is crucial if you want to avoid any accidents so you can purchase the proper equipment. 

Stay Safe On The Roads!

Avoiding driving in rainy conditions when you can is the best option. However, unfortunately, you can't always stay off the roads every time a storm rolls in. By following the safety tips in this article you can reduce your chances of hydroplaning. 

If you do get into an accident, you will want to contact a reputable car accident law firm to start filing a claim. Call us today at (678) 251-9309 to schedule a free consultation!