Imagine driving on a rainy day. The roads are wet. Your windshield wipers are operating at full speed. All of a sudden, you hit a puddle of water and you can feel your vehicle begin to lift off the road (hydroplane). Suddenly you lose control.
Most drivers have experienced this at some point and know how helpless it can feel.
Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle hits water more quickly than your tires are able to meet the pavement. This causes your vehicle to slide on the water that is between your tires and the road.
While the weather conditions may be beyond your control, as a responsible driver there are precautions you can take to keep yourself and your precious cargo safe.
Adjust your speed.
When the roads are wet you will need to allow yourself additional reaction time. Skidding can occur easily on wet roads when braking. Smart Motorist recommends following the three second rule. Leave three seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Driving at a slower speed will decrease your chances hydroplaning and will also allow you time to react to other traffic.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you hit an area of standing water is to slam your foot on the brake. Instead, easy up on the gas, gently brake and try to hold the steering wheel steady in the direction you are trying to go until you feel traction again. Braking lightly allows your vehicles tires to maintain traction with the road at all times.
Maintain good tire tread and proper inflation.
Balding, worn or improperly inflated tires are dangerous by themselves. Combine poor tires with slick road conditions and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Tire tread is important because the tread is what allows traction with the pavement. Without tread, your vehicle is unable to gain good contact with the road therefore causing your vehicle to have a greater risk of skidding.
Have reliable windshield wipers.
Ensure you replace your windshield wiper blades as needed. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Wet road conditions limit visibility considerably so you’ll want to be sure your windshield wipers are operating at optimal performance at all times.
Use your headlights.
Although you may think you don’t need your headlights on for you to see, having them on alerts other drivers of your presence. You can take all of the steps to be as careful as possible however it is also wise to be proactive in your own safety.
Travel in the middle lane.
Water is more likely to build up along the outside lanes of the road. Driving in the middle lane will decrease the amount of larger puddles your vehicle may come in contact with.
Avoid moving water.
Never attempt to drive through moving water. It is hard to judge the depth of the water. If you can’t see the road you should avoid driving through it. Deep water can cause you to stall as well as cause serious mechanical damage.