Driving in the rain can be a challenging task, and one of the most frightening dangers involved is the risk of hydroplaning. I have seen many car accidents and serious injuries result from people losing their cars in this way. Even people that are adept at driving in the rain can hydroplane if they do not take the proper precautions. As we get further into winter, the weather will get worse, which means that we need to drive with even greater caution. With this article, I hope to provide greater insight into how to avoid hydroplaning, and what to do if your car begins to skid.
Reducing the risk: Hydroplaning occurs when the tires lose grip on the road and slide along the water that covers it. The car’s speed is one of the biggest factors involved in making this happen. Once a car reaches a certain speed, driving in the rain becomes basically the same thing as driving on ice. When the combination of water on the road and the speed of the vehicle is enough, the weight of the car will not be great enough to maintain traction. While speeding is a common cause of hydroplaning, it is just as harmful to slam on the brakes. This will make the car very difficult to control, and may turn it sideways as it hydroplanes. To make sure you avoid having to break suddenly, always keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
Another very important factor in hydroplaning is the tire quality of a car. When a tire is worn out, the tread can no longer disperse the water from underneath the car. Before you drive in the rain, make sure your tires have good tread depth and pressure.
What to do if your vehicle hydroplanes: The risk of hydroplaning can be significantly reduced by having good tires and slowing down, but it still happens, so it is important to know how to handle it. It is not always easy to know if you are hydroplaning, but when it is serious, you will be able to easily recognize the lack of power you have over what your vehicle is doing. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is slam on your brakes or turn your steering wheel. When you do either of these, the car will skid even worse and may turn sideways as it hydroplanes. Instead, hold the steering wheel tightly in a straight-forward direction and ease off the accelerator. If you feel your rear tires hydroplaning, you can turn the steering wheel into the skid to regain traction, but need to immediately turn the wheel back forward once you do. If your car has an anti-lock braking system, you can brake normally to slow down the car. For vehicles that do not have ABS, lightly pumping the brake is the best way to stop.
Jason Epstein is a partner at the Seattle and Bellevue based personal injury law firm Premier Law Group. As a Washington injury lawyer, Bellevue auto accident attorney and Renton car crash lawyer, Jason has fought insurance companies for over 10 years. For more information from Seattle car accident lawyer Jason Epstein, click the preceding link. You can also get his books on Washington auto accidents for free by clicking on the preceding link.