Hydroplaning is likely to happen in rainy season on flat roads and it means skidding of a car’s tires across a wet surface. Hydroplaning occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter through its treads. Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water and loses traction. The result is loss of steering, braking and power control.
All rubber tires have tread on it that are designed to displace water by capillary action and create more grip between tire and road surface. Having a good tire tread can reduce the chance of hydroplaning.
When does Hydroplaning Occur?
Hydroplaning can occur on any wet road surface made of tar road or concrete, however, the initial few minutes of a light rain can be the most dangerous.
When light rain mixes with oil residue on the road surface, it creates slippery conditions that can cause vehicles, especially those traveling speeds in excess of 70 kph, to hydroplane. This can be a deadly combination for the driver and surrounding motorists.
While it is possible to identify the factors above, the truth is that hydroplaning often strikes unexpectedly, creating a scary and puzzling few moments for everyone no matter how good the driver is. Taking a few precautionary steps can help you avoid such perilous situations.
- Keep your tires properly maintained and balanced.
- Keep your tires properly inflated as per specification. You’d be amazed at how many dangerous situations you can prevent with this one quick, easy measure.
- Replace your tires if you could see the wear indicator on them.
- Avoid settling into the outer lanes of the road, where excess water tends to accumulate.
- Watch the drivers in front of you. If they begin to act erratically, there’s a chance you will too. And it goes without saying, but you always want to maintain proper distance as well.
- Try to drive in the tracks created by the vehicle ahead of you.
- Turn of the cruise control.
- Try not to make sharp turns.
Sometimes, even when you do take every possible precaution, Mother Nature doesn’t care and you can still end up in hydroplaning. If your vehicle does start to hydroplane, follow these steps – you still may be able to right yourself with the road and make it to work with nothing more than an increased heartbeat.
- Maintain calm and need not panic. Tough we know it is easier said than done.
- Never brake your vehicle immediately. Gradually, ease your foot off the accelerator, and apply brakes gently if necessary to avoid further loss of control. If your vehicle is with ABS then it’s easy to stop as the ABS system will try to make sure that wheel don’t lock.
- Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and keep car straight and be prepared to compensate when the tires regain control.
- Be careful not to oversteer, as your momentum can throw you off course or into a spin.
- Whether you have front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, you always want to maintain the course of the road. This may take a few turns of the steering wheel in either direction.
Because hydroplaning is so common and so potentially dangerous, tire manufacturers are always coming up with new designs and experimenting with various materials to help prevent it. This emphasis on hydroplane prevention means that there are many excellent tires designed to expertly expel water from their tread and keep you moving in a straight line