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Understanding hydroplaning and how to avoid it

| Aug 26, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Have you ever been driving down a wet road and felt your tires briefly lose contact with the pavement? Losing control of your vehicle – even for just a moment – is a heart-stopping experience. You wouldn’t think hydroplaning is something you’d need to worry about in barren Arizona; however, monsoon season takes place June through September and brings heavy rain, thunderstorms and flash flooding.

Hydroplaning describes when a vehicle starts sliding uncontrollably due to the tires taking on more water than their treads can displace. If you’re driving at high speeds, the water begins to slightly push the front tires off the road, creating a thin film between your tires and the pavement. The resulting separation of ground and tire causes you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially crash.

If you wish to stay safe on the roads this summer storm season, it’s essential to know how to avoid hydroplaning and what to do if you lose control of your car. Here’s everything you need to know about controlling your vehicle in the rain.

Avoiding hydroplaning

There are a few different actions a driver can make that may trigger hydroplaning. To ensure you don’t lose control, you should avoid:

  • Speeding: Driving too fast is one of the most common triggers of hydroplaning. The possibility of water building up and lifting the tires from the road becomes more likely while speeding.
  • Driving in the rain: The most dangerous time you can drive is while it’s raining. The oils left on the road from other vehicles rise from the ground and make the surface slippery.
  • Driving through water: Whether it’s a puddle or standing water, you should always avoid driving through water – especially if you don’t know how deep it is.

What to do if your car is hydroplaning

If you feel your vehicle starting to spin or slip, remember not to panic or overcorrect. When a car begins to hydroplane, drivers should:

  • Not slam on the brakes: While this may be your first instinct, slamming on your brakes will only cause your car to lose any traction left with the road.
  • Correct your spinning: It will feel unnatural, but you should turn your wheel in the direction your car is sliding to start to straighten out slowly.
  • Pull over: Losing control of your car is a frightening experience. Once you gain control again, feel free to pull over somewhere safe to collect yourself.
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