Hydroplaning: what it is and how to avoid it


If you’ve ever driven on wet or icy roads, you’ve probably done hydroplaning. The most official term is hydroplaning, and it happens when your vehicle’s tires come into contact with a wet or slippery surface and they skid or slip in response. Also known as aquaplaning, hydroplaning means your tires lose contact with the road surface. The sensation is temporary in most cases, but can be a terrifying experience if you are not prepared to deal with it.

Weather conditions that increase the risk of hydroplaning are strongly correlated with accident statistics:

  • More than 50% of all accidents involve accidents involving a single vehicle.
  • Average nearly 1 million accidents occur every year due to wet pavement.
  • This results in 4,700 deaths and 384,000 injuries.
  • Wet pavement is also the cause of one in seven road accidents and injuries.
  • About a quarter of all vehicle accidents are due to weather-related causes.
  • 74% of these accidents occur on wet roads.
  • Inclement weather, including rain, snow and fog, contributes to approximately 21% of all vehicle accidents are related to the weather.

Before hitting the road as a driver, it is essential that you understand exactly what hydroplaning involves, its impact on your car insurance and how you can prevent it.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is when your tires cannot maintain traction due to the volume of water on the road., your tires can lose traction with the pavement, effectively eliminating your ability to steer or sometimes brake. When hydroplaning takes over, you may feel temporarily helpless. In a seaplane, the following effects are common:

  1. Loss of direction
  2. Brake loss
  3. Loss of power control

What to do in case of hydroplaning

If you find yourself hydroplaning, the loss of control can feel crippling to you, but there are some things you can do right away to help regain control and reduce your risk of an incident.

If your car is hydroplaning, try to stay calm and follow these tips.

  1. Spin the wheel.
    When you feel the car starting to slide, turn the steering wheel in the direction your car is aqua gliding to counter the loss of control. This improves the ability of the wheel to regain traction.
  2. Stop accelerating.
    Slowly lift your foot off the accelerator to gradually reduce your speed. Remember that speed increases the volume of water your tires have to move, so letting your car decelerate naturally can gradually help the tires regain an advantage.
  3. Pump the breaks.
    Resist the urge to slam the brakes, which can exacerbate hydroplaning, and instead pump the brakes lightly to slow the vehicle down without adding to the skidding.
  4. Drive in a lower gear.
    Shifting down a gear can help your car stay at a lower, more stable acceleration rate, reducing your chance of an accident. While it can be too distracting to try to downshift in the middle of a seaplane, driving in a lower gear early in the rain can help prevent hydroplaning.
  5. Take the time to breathe.
    Hydroplaning is intimidating for most drivers, no matter how long you’ve been on the road. If you are hydroplaning, stop when it is safe to do so and take a moment to recover and calm your nerves. Driving calmly improves your ability to take longer and slow down or avoid water accumulation.

When does hydroplaning happen?

When the amount of water on the road exceeds what your tire can disperse at a set speed, the water separates the tires from the road, causing hydroplaning. This can happen anytime the road surface is wet, but there are times when conditions are particularly conducive to hydroplaning.

Most common weather for hydroplaning

Most drivers just don’t realize how dangerous the roads can become when it’s wet, and it doesn’t take much to cause an accident. National Road and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 46% of weather-related accidents occur during a rainstorm, only 17% for snow and 12% for ice. It is also not necessary to have a rain storm for hydroplaning to occur; just a little light rain is enough to create slippery conditions, especially for drivers with older tires.

Car speed for hydroplaning

When you add high speeds to slippery roads, that’s a recipe for disaster. Studies show that when you travel at a speed of 35 miles per hour or more, you increase the chances hydroplaning. Faster speeds reduce your ability to control the vehicle, and your treads are much less likely to find support on the ground.

Hydroplaning in the snow

Hydroplaning is usually caused by rain or a mixture of rain and oil, but it can also occur with snow. Snow can greatly reduce friction and increase the chances of slipping on the road. It also makes stopping much more difficult. A common misconception is that you should double the braking distance in the rain, but in the snow, it is recommended that you quadruple the distance to give your vehicle more time for a safe stop.

How to avoid hydroplaning

Many drivers underestimate the impact that rain can have on the roads. We may instinctively know how to slow down and take extra caution in snow or ice, but because rain is more common, we are more likely to be used to these conditions and do not always exercise the most. caution required by the situation.

When driving in wet conditions, here are some steps you can take to prevent hydroplaning.

Weather prevention

The most dangerous time to drive is right after it starts to rain. This is when natural oils and road residue rise to the surface and mix with rainwater, creating a slippery, slippery surface. If you can, try not to drive when it starts to rain to avoid slippery conditions.

Drive slower

When driving fast in wet conditions, your tires are forced to move water faster. Ultimately, they can’t keep up with the buildup of water between your tires and the asphalt. To reduce the risk of hydroplaning, slow down your speeds, allow plenty of distance between cars, and avoid puddles or standing water in the road.

Check your tires

Your tires require basic maintenance in order to keep them in good condition for the road. This includes regularly rotating and balancing your tires. Most importantly, make sure your tires are properly inflated. A mechanic or tire specialist can check your inflation levels and the condition of the tread. Worn and bald tires can significantly increase your risk of hydroplaning while driving.

Avoid cruise control

Cruise control can be handy on long trips, but it’s not a good idea to use it when rain, hail, or snow is present on the road. By giving up control of your speed and tracking distance, you can get too close to other cars and put yourself at increased risk of an accident. Instead, avoid cruise control and maintain manual control of the vehicle, managing speed and distance from other cars.

Who is to blame if you are the victim of a hydroplaning accident?

When you fly the seaplane, the question of fault is not always straightforward. If there are injuries in a car accident, the insurance company will want to establish fault in order to know who is responsible for the compensation.

There are certain factors that a driver can generally control that could make the driver responsible for a hydroplaning accident. Speed ​​is a major factor, and if a driver drives at speeds unsafe for the weather or road conditions, the insurance company could find the driver at fault. If a driver has bald or underinflated tires, it greatly increases the chance of an accident and could also make a driver negligible.


Who is responsible for a hydroplaning accident?

The fault in a hydroplaning accident depends on several factors. For example, if there is a defect in your tires, the manufacturer could be to blame. If it turned out that the driver was speeding or was negligible, then the driver would generally be found to be at fault.

Does my insurance cover a hydroplaning accident?

Auto insurance coverage Protects you against a number of incidents that can occur on the road, including natural accidents that do occur, such as hydroplaning. Insurance companies usually analyze the accident in more detail or rely on a police report before assessing who is at fault and responsible for the damage.

Does all-wheel drive prevent hydroplaning?

Controversy surrounds whether all-wheel drive (AWD) actually helps prevent or increase the risk of hydroplaning. Some car manufacturers indicate that AWD technology will redistribute power from the tires to hydroplaning and effectively help regain traction, so check with your manufacturer if you are concerned about your AWD vehicle.

Can tire pressure affect the chances of hydroplaning?

Tire pressure is one of the main causes of hydroplaning because it impacts the contact your tires have with the road. When the tires are underinflated, they are less likely to grip and hold the road, allowing water to seep in between. This increases your chances of hydroplaning. For added safety, always check your tire pressure and make sure your tires are properly inflated and aligned.


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