We’re officially full-speed ahead in springtime, and, for most regions, that means we are right in the midst (and mist) of April showers. As you prepare for some scenic seasonal road trips, our team of slippery street savants have put together a crash-free crash course on staying safe and in control.
What is Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning, sometimes called aquaplaning, occurs when a layer of water builds up between the wheels of a vehicle and the surface of the road. When this happens, wheels lose the traction needed to respond to control inputs. As a result, your car may glide and become hard to maneuver, or in the worst cases, experience a complete loss of control.
Tips to Stay Safe
So, how can you keep your tires buckled down and car in control during the rainy season? We’ve compiled a couple of safety tips to help you weather the storm this spring.
· Avoid puddles: It may seem obvious, but the best way to avoid hydroplaning is avoiding the water that causes the skidding. If you can do so safely, maneuver around standing water when possible.
· Don’t use cruise control in the rain: This function works to keep your car moving at a constant speed, which can be great on long car rides. When it rains, however, you run the risk of hitting water and not being able to slow down to brace your car for the lack of traction.
· Follow the leader: If you are following another car in the rain, try to drive in their tire tracks. The leading car will have already blazed the trail, so to speak, and displaced the water for you to be able to trail safely.
· Keep your tires in check: The best place for water to go when your wheels pass over is in the tread of your tires. Check your tires frequently to make sure the tread is not worn down and unable to serve its function of building traction.
· Avoid sharp turns when possible: Making sudden movements on slick pavement can cause hydroplaning. When making turns, give yourself plenty of time and try to stay in your lane—waiting to pass cars or switch lanes until the rain subsides.
· Slow down: Between obscuring your vision, reducing traction on the road and distracting you from the road, rainstorms can be a recipe for disaster. Make sure to reduce your speed significantly—we recommend 35 mph or less—to stay safe and maintain as much control as possible.
· Take a break: If you don’t feel like you can safely continue driving in the rain, pull off the road when safe to do so. Make sure to use your turn signals and hazards, and, if possible, try to get to the nearest parking lot instead of parking on the shoulder.
If Hydroplaning Happens
If you do find yourself out of control on the road, remain calm. The worst thing you can do is panic in the case of hydroplaning. The first thing you’ll need to do is slow down by easing your foot off the gas. Do not slam on the brakes or quickly turn your wheel, as this will cause you to further lose control. The average incident only lasts a split-second, so the best thing to do is ride it out. If you were braking when you entered the skid, ease up on the brake until it's over.
If you’re driving a manual transmission car, disengage the clutch as well.
While hydroplaning can be scary, there is no need to fret knowing Caliber Collision always has you covered. In the event of a hydroplaning accident, or any other collision, our team is here for you doing what we do best, Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.®