Hydroplaning: Staying Safe on Wet Roads

December 22, 2010

The death of four family members, including two young children, after their car skidded on a rain-soaked highway, is drawing attention to the risks of driving in wet weather. With Florida averaging about 54.02 inches of rain each year, it is important to take extreme precautions in rainy weather to avoid being involved in a serious car accident.

Attorney Joseph Maus says that it is important to have good tires and maintain slow speeds when driving in the rain. Hydroplaning occurs when there’s too much water on the road for tires to disperse. When this happens, a wedge of water forms in front of the tires, causing the car to lose contact with the road.

A study conducted by Consumer Reports concluded that having adequate tire tread thickness helps to move the water out of the way. There needs to be at least one-16th of an inch of tire tread in order for the water to escape. Not replacing your tires when they begin to wear can be extremely dangerous, as the tread will reduce with time. Additionally, it is important to maintain a car’s required tire pressure, as not doing can cause a car to flip over in the rain.

According to David Champion of Consumer Reports, the main reason why people hydroplane is driving too fast for the conditions. If the roads are wet, slow down. About 24% of car accidents are caused by weather conditions. Many of these accidents could be prevented if drivers would slow down to 30 mph or less. Doing this can help avoid hard breaking and make it easier to drive in the tracks of the vehicles ahead of you. It also makes it easier to watch for puddles on the road.

Experts say that if a car begins to hydroplane the natural tendency is to slam on the brakes. However the proper technique is to take your foot off the gas pedal and steer in the direction you want to go.

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