Hydroplaning Tips

October 15, 2019
How to deal with hydroplaning

How to deal with hydroplaning

Now that rain is again finally falling in the South, it might be good to discuss Hydroplaning.

When water causes your car tire to lose contact with the ground and “float” or “skid” on that blanket of water, you are hydroplaning. You are not really driving at that second, but you are riding along with your car as if it is on ice.

You have no steering, braking or acceleration while hydroplaning in wet conditions. I see crashes every month caused by such weather, or usually the overreaction to it.

Most of us have skidded or spun tires for split second especially while driving in heavy rain or the first 10 minutes of a light rain with oil residue on the road surface, it creates very slippery conditions. Deep puddles on the sides of the road are also commonly to blame. But because it usually happens only for a second, it just causes us to have an adrenaline surge, to call out to the Lord above, and maybe slow down a bit by the time the tires bite again.

I know a fellow who used to race sprint cars in his youth over at Riverside Motorsports Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. They equipped their cars with wide slick tires in back to run the oval track on slippery gumbo mud. It was a pain to put regular tires back on if he just needed to drive it home without it being on trailer. One night, in the time before cell phones and reliable forecasts, he decided to just drive back to Arlington with the “slicks” on. He made it fine on the dry pavement until the rain began while crossing the Memphis-Arkansas bridge. At that moment, he was effectively trying to drive a hockey puck on ice. He survived but he never again thought it was too much trouble to swap out the tires.

Regular street tire tread has grooves to channel water from beneath the tire to prevent hydroplaning. But if it happens, here’s what to do:

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Hydroplaning 101

No Gas - No Brakes - Just Coast

Get your foot off the gas and don’t just slam on brakes… Ride it out while only veering (not jerking) the steering TOWARDS the way your car is hydroplaning. This way your tires may reconnect with the wet surface of the road. You can then steer, and brake as needed.

  • If you hit the gas or are using your Cruise Control – you are about to spin out of control.
  • If you slam on the brakes-- you are about to spin out of control.
  • If you jerk the wheel one way or the other-- you are about to spin out of control.

Remember: “Coast and Veer will get you Clear!"

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in tractor trailer and car accidents, medical malpractice, and disability. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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