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What is Hydroplaning?
Have you ever been driving in very rainy weather, there is water on the roadway and it seems like your vehicle is uncontrollably sailing or gliding over a patch of water? It’s likely that this experience was a phenomenon called hydroplaning. This situation can be very alarming and many people react poorly or do not know how to react at all.
Hydroplaning is essentially your tires gliding over the water instead of going through it. Your tires have lost contact with the road. Hydroplaning most commonly happens right after it has started to rain, in deep water runoff going over a roadway or if there is a lot of dust and oil on the top of the water on the road. Vehicles are typically going over 45mph for hydroplaning to occur.
5 Things to Keep in Mind About Hydroplaning
Whether you are a seasoned driver or very new to driving, there are a few important details to keep in mind when hydroplaning occurs.
to skid on a wet surface (such as pavement) because a film of water on the surface causes the tires to lose contact with it
1. Keep Your Cool
This is the most important thing to remember. When something unusual happens while you’re driving, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to do. No matter if you’re a new or seasoned driver, an event like gliding over water in your vehicle can be very alarming. The worst thing you can do in a situation where your vehicle is out of control is to lose control of yourself as well.
Breath deeply, keep your hands on the wheel and power through it.
2. Do Not Slam On the Breaks
Oftentimes, it is our natural instinct to try and stop a situation where we feel scared or uncomfortable. Sometimes those uncertain feelings will translate to literally stopping while driving. This is the worst possible reaction to hydroplaning and could cost you greatly. Do not ever slam on the breaks if your vehicle is hydroplaning. Keep going the same speed and with the same pressure on the gas as you were when the hydroplaning began. It is usually just a few moments of uncertainty before your tires find the pavement again.
3. Do Not Overly Accelerate
Another common mistake is the tendency to accelerate when your vehicle is hydroplaning. It might make sense in the moment to try and accelerate out of an uncontrollable situation. This will simply not work out well. The best thing to do is to trust your vehicle and to let your vehicle find the pavement again while continuing on the intended trajectory of normal driving.
4. Learn from the Situation
Think back on how you were driving when the hydroplaning occurred. Were you driving too fast for the weather conditions? Often times, we go into a sort of autopilot mode in our minds while driving and this can cause us to lose inhibitions while driving in inclement weather. Remember to always be aware when you’re driving and to slow it down when there is rainier weather.
5. Take Some Time to Cool Off
Don’t be afraid to pull over after experiencing hydroplaning. For many people, hydroplaning is a very stressful event. For new drivers, the stress comes from the unsettling reality of the unknown quirks of driving. For seasoned drivers, it can be rattling to experience something new or just something they have had a better handle on in the past. As long as you have kept your cool and mentally powered through the situation, you have done all you can in the moment. Give yourself a break and take time to calm down. It will soon be a distant memory and great learning experience.