Driving in Rain? Slow Down & Avoid Hydroplaning

Driving in Rain

Have you ever experienced skidding on a wet road? It’s like losing all your vehicle controls, though for a split second, yet it can be dangerous. As soon as the water accumulates on the roads, there is a risk of hydroplaning. What is hydroplaning? And how to avoid it? Let us dig deeper.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, most weather-related crashes occur on wet pavements and during rainfall. Annually, more than 5,700 people lose their lives, and nearly 544,700 are injured in crashes on wet pavement. While crashes during rain claim the lives of 3,400 people and 357,300 are injured every year. Weather conditions can affect the battery’s health, and your car battery might go flat and get you stuck in the heavy rain, and you’ll be thinking, can you jumpstart your car in the rain?  

What is Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning refers to a condition when your vehicle tires lose contact with the road and start skidding. Or, to put it another way, start rolling on the top of a thin layer of water. This type of condition can occur any time a tire can’t channel the water fast enough to sustain good contact with the road. The problem is not just driving through standing water, but heavy rain or worn tread can also put you at considerable risk. Whenever this happens, drivers are likely to lose steering, power, or even braking control, which means virtually no control at all.

The grooves on tires are designed to offer space for water to go and eject when the tire rolls. Supposing you’re driving at a safe speed, your tires will have the right proportion of rubber in contact with the asphalt to keep the traction.

However, if the tire tread is shallow as the tire is worn, the grooves aren’t as deep to allow a sufficient water flow. The grooves scatter less water, and the vehicle starts to hydroplane, and things get bad for you on the slippery road.

How to Avoid Hydroplaning?

You specifically need to be aware during the first rain after a dry summer of Texas, when oils and other grease has been collecting on the road for a long time. And then particularly the first few hours of fresh rain. You need to follow some tips to avoid needing a tow truck. A drive in the rain or on a wet road needs to follow some precautions to stay safe and prevent hydroplaning.

  1. The first thing you need to do is slow down. Suppose you’re driving 35 mph or slower. In that case, hydroplane chances are less likely because the car tires get more traction at lower speeds on wet pavement. With the slower speed, you can get sufficient time to react to sudden traffic slowdowns, standing water, debris on the road, and disabled cars.
  2. You should give yourself twice the stopping distance between you and the next vehicle ahead of you. The driver needs to give at least 120 feet distance to allow smooth braking without panic for a wet road.
  3. Switch on your car headlights to make sure other cars can see you, and you can better see the road.
  4. During rain or on wet roads, don’t use cruise control. As it can cause the tires to spin faster in case your car starts to hydroplane.
  5. You better not try to drive through water flowing across the road even when you’re going slow. Cars can be swept away by just 12 inches of water.
  6. You can try to drive on the tire tracks of the cars in front of you. The vehicles in front of you have done some work of scattering water for you.
  7. Avoid sudden acceleration, braking, and quick or sharp turning.
  8. You don’t want to overtake or change the lane in haste when the visibility is low, and it takes double the time to stop.
  9. Also, you need to inflate tires to the recommended PSI.
  10. Another essential thing to avoid is going through puddles or standing water. A pool of several inches of water can be dangerous and cause you to hydroplane. The water can also splash into your engine and stall it and also negatively affect your brakes.

What to Do If You Hydroplane?

It might seem wrong at the very moment, but the only right response to get out of a hydroplane is to immediately withdraw your foot from the gas and wait. We can’t heed it more, do not try to steer or a brake. Commonly hydroplane skids will last only a split second before the vehicle regains its traction.

You would not want to suddenly slam the brakes or jerk the steering wheel as it can cause you to lose control entirely. However, if you do apply the brake when getting dragged on the water layer, take it easy on the brake until it’s over. And if you have a manual transmission car, you also need to disengage the clutch. It’s best to wait a bit for the skid to be over before applying brakes.

Though, in case you have to brake to avoid crashing into another vehicle and have anti-lock brakes, you can brake normally. But if you don’t have ABS brakes, pump the brakes lightly and softly steer the car in the direction you want to go. You might need to slightly steer the direction with subtle movements a few times as you are regaining traction but never oversteer or sudden movements. Driving smartly and safely should always be the priority of a driver and, more crucially, on a wet road.

Need a tow? Call Flag Towing Today!

Flag Towing and roadside assistance offer a comprehensive towing solution. Whether you are in an emergency or need to tow your luxury vehicle across the state, Flag Towing is the go-to service. We provide emergency towing and wrecker services in greater Texas. Our “on-call” fleet of tow trucks is always ready to guarantee prompt service. Get in touch with us today at (972) 567-7299