Hydroplaning is a loss of traction that happens when a film of water forms between the wheels of your car, and the wet road. The water acts as a lubricant that a car rides upon like a sled, instead of pavement. This loss of control over steering and brakes can occur even after a light rain. In fact, streets can be the most dangerous the first few minutes of a storm. This is because water mixes with traces of oil on the pavement’s surface. Keep in mind that whether of not your car skids out there’s less traction on wet roads, but there are a few things you can do to avoid hydroplaning.
- Maintain proper tire pressure and rotation: Invest in high-quality tires, and replace them as needed. Driving on bald tires is dangerous, especially during rainy seasons.
- Reduce your speed: Hydroplaning is most likely to occur at speeds over 35 MPH. Faster speeds reduce a tire’s ability to scatter water.
- Don’t cruise: Never use cruise control when driving on wet roads. In the event that you were to hydroplane, your response time would be slower.
- Skip hard braking and sharp turns
- Avoid puddles: If possible, don’t drive through standing water.
- Consider driving in a lower gear
Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid hydroplaning, no matter how careful you are. If your tires do lose contact with the road, stay calm. Hydroplaning usually only lasts for a couple seconds before your car regains traction. Don’t slam on the brakes, but ease your foot off the gas pedal. You never want to accelerate into a skid. Also, be careful not to over-correct. Instead, gently turn the steering wheel. It can be difficult to keep a level head when you’re startled, but if you follow these tips they’ll help you stay safe, and avoid hydroplaning this winter.