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The Dangers of Hydroplaning on Wet Roads

by Ahmed A. about a year ago in motorsports

How a variety of elemental factors can combine to increase the risk of being in a car accident.

Photo by Thái An on Unsplash

Contrary to popular belief, the most dangerous time to be driving in wet conditions is not when there is a downpour, it’s actually the first 10 minutes of rainfall.

How is that possible, you may ask?

Well, the golden answer is oil.

Engine oil and grease are fairly common on almost all paved roads. What happens is, when rain first starts falling, these oils are mixed with the water; creating an extremely slippery and dangerous surface for drivers on the road.

If you’ve ever felt your car slipping or sliding for a split second or more while driving in wet conditions, you’ve most likely experienced hydroplaning.

How Does Hydroplaning Happen?

Your vehicle likely sits on four tires, which form the main connection with the pavement you’re driving on. Hydroplaning happens when basically your tire encounters more water than it can scatter.

This water creates a tiny film between your tires and the road, which often results in a loss of braking and steering effectiveness. The faster you’re going in this situation, the harder it is going to be to maneuver yourself back to safety.

How Many Inches of Water Can Cause Hydroplaning?

Chances of Hydroplaning increase drastically when driving on a wet road with a water depth as little as 1/10". And since you cannot realistically measure water depth as you’re driving, Las Vegas car accident attorney William Brim argues that you should treat any wet condition as a hazard when operating a motor vehicle.

What To Do If Your Car Hydroplanes?

Follow these driving tips to avoid Hydroplaning:

Reduce Your Speed

Studies have found that the highest risk of Hydroplaning is when you’re driving over 45 miles/hour. Consider slowing your speed to at least 10 miles under the speed limit when driving in wet conditions.

Properly Maintain Your Tires

Make sure your tires are properly inflated at all times, and make sure your tires rotated and balanced every seven to ten thousand miles,

Do Not Use Cruise Control In Wet Conditions

Using cruise control would put you at a larger risk if your car begins Hydroplaning on the road as it would take you a longer time to disable the function and regain control of your vehicle.

Follow The Tracks of The Vehicle Ahead of You

Following the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you will insure that you drive on the patches of the road with the least amount of water as it was dispersed from the previous vehicle’s tires. However, make sure you keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

Avoid Puddles and Standing Water on The Road

Since it only takes a small layer of water to create a film that would cause Hydroplaning, try to avoid any water puddles you may come across on the road to minimize your risk.

Liability in Hydroplaning Car Accidents

Because of the complex nature of Hydroplaning car accidents, it’s often tough to assert who may have been negligent.

How to Prevent Hydroplaning

It’s crucial for drivers to learn how to protect themselves and others from dangerous accidents.

The most important factor of prevention is to make sure your vehicle is always properly maintained. Brakes and tires are the two main parts that could make your car vulnerable to hydroplaning. Make sure your brakes are in perfect working order and your tires are always properly inflated.

Follow these additional preventative measures to avoid hydroplaning accidents:

  • Slow down when conditions are wet.
  • Leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Keep your lights on - This ensures that you are visible to others.
  • Keep your eyes and focus on the road at all times while driving.

A victim of a Hydroplaning car accident may assert that the driver was negligent in driving their vehicle, while the car driver may assert that their vehicle’s tires were designed defectively and thereby allowing the build up of water, and ultimately, them losing control and getting in an accident.

Stay safe and follow the tips provided in this article to minimize your chances of Hydroplaning when driving in the rain.

Ahmed A.
Ahmed A.
Read next: 'Stop! We're Going to Crash'
Ahmed A.

Ahmed spends parts of his day writing about technology, cars, health, and fitness. The rest of his time is spent juggling between working out and cooking Michelin-star dishes!

See all posts by Ahmed A.

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