what does hydroplaning mean in driving and how to prevent hydroplaning

Hydroplaning: All You Need to Know and how to prevent hydroplaning

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Some of the common questions we get recently are on hydroplaning. We often get asked what is hydroplaning, what does hydroplaning mean in driving and how to prevent hydroplaning, so we though addressing the questions and the topic generally.

So here are the areas we will cover in today’s post on hydroplaning:

So we will first start by looking at what does hydroplaning mean in driving and how to prevent hydroplaning then we continue by answering other question relating to hydroplaning like:

i)          Does hydroplaning damage your car: and how does it that?

ii)         Does insurance cover hydroplaning accidents?

iii)        How does hydroplaning affect insurance?

So let’s get right into it.

What does hydroplaning mean in driving and how to prevent hydroplaning

When your car experience hydroplaning, you lose control of the vehicle and it becomes difficult to drive optimally without the risk of a fertile accident. So it very important you know how to manage and drive in this situation to prevent accident. While you should know how to handle the situation as it happens, you can also follow some strategies to help avoid hydroplaning altogether.

Hydroplaning Meaning: What is Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is a term used to describe the skidding, sliding, or slipping of car tires across a wet surface.

This condition occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can strew. The water pressure in the front wheel shoves water under the tire, causing the tire to be separated from the road surface by a thin film of water.

This action makes it lose traction or grip resulting in loss of steering, power control, and braking.

What Does Hydroplaning Mean in Driving

Hydroplaning in driving is that point when your tires lose contact with the surface it is riding on due to wet and slippery surface. That means water has separated the tires from the ground.  

Generally, rubber tires are designed with tread, to help channel water from underneath the tire.

This creates greater friction with the road surface and can help thwart or reduce hydroplaning.

When Does Hydroplaning Occur?

Hydroplaning normally occurs on any wet road surface, but the most treacherous time hydroplaning can occur is the first 10 minutes of light rain. This is because light rain mixes with oil residue on the road surface, creating slippery conditions that can cause vehicles, particularly those travelling at high speeds to hydroplane. This can be a deadly situation, not only for the driver but for other motorists driving nearby.

Poor weather conditions like snow, fog, ice, and rain increase the chances of a vehicle being involved in hydroplane-triggered accidents. The slick conditions of the road caused by these weather conditions make driving during this period more precarious.

hydroplaning is caused by a combination of

Types of hydroplaning

There are 3 main types of hydroplaning which are:

  • Dynamic Hydroplaning
  • Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning
  • Viscous Hydroplaning

Dynamic Hydroplaning

Dynamic hydroplaning can occur when water separate or lifts your car wheels off the ground on a runway.

Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning

The reverted rubber car hydroplaning occurs if your car tires lock up, making the rubber to start melting, thereby trapping water underneath the tire which turns into steam. When this happens, it means you are driving on steam which starts to melt your tires.

Viscous Hydroplaning

This category of hydroplaning is caused when oil or accumulated rubber combines with water on a runway, it can form an impenetrable layer of liquid your tires can’t breakthrough. This is especially problematic on smooth asphalt runways.

How to Prevent Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning collisions are not totally avoidable. Hydroplaning is difficult to control or stop once it has begun. However, there are some driving practices that will prevent your car from hydroplaning altogether. You should avoid attempting to grab hold of the wheel and steering it out of a possible hydroplane because it actually worsens the condition.

So here are some the best way to avoid hydroplaning is

Observe the following prevention tips:

  • Turn the wheel gently in situations where steering is necessary
  • Ease off of the vehicle’s accelerator slowly to help regain traction
  • Stay off of the brake, use it only when it is essential and do so very slowly
  • Steer the vehicle in the same direction of the skid when the rear wheels begin to skid
  • Always drive slowly in adversative weather conditions, particularly during heavy rains
  • Ensure that you keep all tires properly inflated and they have adequate tire pressure
  • Avoid using cruise control on wet roads
  • Buy new tires when the tread begins to wear
  • Always rotate and replace tires when necessary
  • Slow down when roads are wet because your tires may find it more difficult to scatter the water if you drive faster.
  • Avoid puddles and standing water when driving in wet conditions
  • Avoid driving in outer lanes because the water tends to accumulate more on these areas
  • If possible, drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you
  • Drive in a lower gear
  • Avoid hard braking
  • Turn off cruise control
  • Avoid making sharp or quick turns

Heed to these prevention tips to cut down or reduce the number of annual car accidents associated with hydroplaning. Never underrate the effects of hydroplaning, drive safe.

However, you matter how safe you drive, your car may still hydroplane. Next, let’s look at what you should do when and if you hydroplane.

What To Do If You Hydroplane

The imperative thing to remember is never to panic when your car hydroplanes. Avoid applying the brake or accelerating suddenly. Hydroplaning is a loss of traction to the front tires, therefore sudden braking slows the front tires but locks the rear tires. This can result in a spin-out. Accelerating suddenly can also pull the vehicle straight ahead which could be risky if the vehicle is pointed toward the edge of the road.

Ways in which you can handle this situation largely depends on the type of vehicle you are in:

For drivers who in a front-wheel-drive with or without ABS and traction control or a rear-wheel-drive with ABS and traction control, immediately look for open space and travel in that direction. Apply the accelerator lightly and steer gently toward the open space you have located.

For drivers in a rear-wheel-drive without ABS and traction control then locate an open space and plan to travel in that direction. Gently ease off the accelerator and steer toward the open space you have located.

You should not have the cruise control engaged in heavy rain caused by a sudden acceleration problem. The vehicle will identify the buildup of water as a slowdown and demand for more power. This may cause the car to shift to a lower gear, leading to more buildup of water under the tires.

Avoid hydroplaning by ensuring the tread on your tires is thick enough and by slowing down. One common method to check your tread is to place a penny upside down in your tread. If Lincoln’s head is hidden then it means your tread is thick enough and you are good to go. However, if your thread fails to conceal Lincoln’s head then your tread is too thin and you may need new tires. When driving on a wet road, cut down your speed to about one-third of what you normally drive.

If your car is hydroplaning you should Mind the Follow below.

Hydroplaning can be prevented by driving with caution when the roads are wet and slippery and avoiding puddles as much as possible. What makes hydroplaning so nerve-wracking is that it causes your car to temporarily lose traction with the road.

However, hydroplaning can occur to even the best drivers, so, we have taken time to outline the protocol you should observe in such a situation.

  • Remain Calm, and Ease Off the Gas

When your car hydroplanes, you may be immediately tempted to hit on your brakes, doing this is dangerous. When your car loses control, remain calm instead and ease your foot off the gas pedal to allow the car to slow down on its own. Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel, and navigate your car in your direction.

  • Brake Carefully

To apply brakes properly when your car is hydroplaning, you need to know if your car has regular or anti-lock brakes. For cars with regular brakes, use gentle pumps, rather than steady pressure. On the other hand, if your car has anti-lock brakes as with almost all modern cars, you may brake normally without necessarily slamming on your brakes. Then begin to slow down once your tires make contact with the road again.

  • Regain Control

After slowing down and are actually driving on the road again, you can regain control of your vehicle and resume your normal driving. Remember that you need to drive slower when it’s raining, or when the roads are wet.

Causes of Hydroplaning Accident

According to recent car accident statistics, more than 10 per cent of traffic fatalities on a yearly basis is caused by hydroplaning.

Also, negligent driving is another main factor that contributes to accidents. A reckless or negligent driver, combined with the wet road are the major causes of road accidents. Car tires are manufactured with grooves to grip the road surface.

These grooves help to disperse water that interacts with the tire tread. Unfortunately, hostile weather is often too big of a match for the tires, causing a major number of car accidents on roads.

The following are some of the most common causes of a hydroplaning accident:

  • Deepwater puddles on the surface of the road which is a potentially dangerous water hazard
  • Driving too fast for road conditions
  • Inadequate design and curvature of the road is inadequate
  • Incorrect or tire pressure
  • Inadequate water drainage

Apart from the above-listed causes, there may be many other conditions that may lead to a hydroplaning accident. However, the points listed are mostly frequently contributors. These car accidents can cause serious bodily injuries or even death to the drivers and other passengers in the car. Hydroplaning can also lead to severe traffic fatalities. Though some of these accidents are inescapable, however negligent driving habits tends to be mostly responsible for these road accidents.

Does Hydroplaning Damage Your car? How Does It Do That?

A driver cannot avoid hydroplaning in some cases since the weather, road conditions, and other factors make it difficult to keep the vehicle under control. However, several factors could be responsible for causing the accident. The driver of the car that hydroplaned will be responsible for hydroplane damages when the error is caused by him or her.

If the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or some hard substance, speeding, or texting/taking or making a call while driving, the driver’s actions may have contributed to the cause of the hydroplane-related crash. If the driver is responsible for the crash, there could be compensation to recover from your injuries, but you may have to pay for the damages of the car. The problem is that the liability for hydroplaning accidents is very difficult to prove.

Hydroplaning can cause major damage to the engine of your car. Driving through puddles, particularly ones that are more than a few inches deep may cause damage to the car’s engine.

When rain keeps on pouring, the risk of flooding is rife and more puddles keep appearing on the roads, this can increase the risks of hydroplaning-related accidents on roads. Apparently, motors such as 4x4s, are better fortified to tackle puddles on roads, but not smaller cars.

Most drivers want to know if water can be sucked up into a car engine and what tips they offer for avoiding any potential problems.

According to Robert King, technical editor with Glass.co.uk, “The last time we suffered extensive flooding in the UK, the engines of many vehicles were severely damaged as a result of driving through water”.

This is because modern cars are built in such a way that they tend to have air intakes fairly low down at the front of the car. Drive through water deep enough and it will be sucked up into the engine, triggering it to seize.

The technical term for damage is called hydrostatic lock. It occurs when water enters the cylinder of an engine and during the compression stroke will lock the engine piston in position. This makes the connection rod to be overloaded, causing it to distort and cause major engine damage.

For drivers in ‘normal’ vehicles which are not 4×4’s, avoid driving through the very large puddles deep enough to get to the tray of the car.

Drivers ought to be extremely cautious when driving around large puddles in the road and to look out for pedestrians and other road users around them, particularly on-coming traffic.

Does Insurance Cover Hydroplaning Accidents?

If you are in an accident with another vehicle, your Collision coverage on your car insurance covers you from a loss. This insurance could help if you, unfortunately, smash another vehicle or someone else smashes your car. Your insurance can also cover hydroplaning accidents. There’s also a comprehensive coverage on your car insurance, which offers protection for any vehicle damage not from a collision if your car is damaged. Consult an agent about these areas of the insurance coverage and whether to keep or add more coverage to your policy. This could be vital in a number of situations, including hydroplaning.

Sometimes uncontrollable situations like hydroplaning can lead to accidents. You can rest assured knowing you have Auto Insurance that will cover your car in case of any eventualities.

How Does Hydroplaning Affect Insurance?

You may be involved in a crash caused by hydroplaning that may leave you with some damages in your cars, such as a cracked rear light bumper, a damaged tail light, a pushed in the fender, and others. If your car is financed and you have full insurance coverage, you may be wondering if there would be an issue with getting the car fixed through insurance.

If this happens, you may have to pay the deductible and your insurance company will pay the remaining amount. But in some cases, you may have to pay all of it yourself.

Your insurance company may probably cover you if you have full coverage. Though you should expect your rates to increase. Some companies may even drop you altogether. If the damages less than $1000, then it is best you fix the car yourself because filing more claims may lead to a higher premium.

Bottom line

Note that when driving in the rain, you should avoid using cruise control. This is because if your car is set on cruise control, it can cause your vehicle to accelerate when you encounter a deep puddle, which can be very dangerous. You need to deactivate cruise control you need to brake, and braking is not ideal when your car is hydroplaning.

Also, check your tire maintenance. Ensure the tires of your car are properly inflated, and rotating and replace them when necessary. Doing this will help you out on slippery roads.

Finally, if it is possible, you should keep to the middle lanes of the road because water tends to build up more on the outer lanes. Maintain the inner lanes to lower risks of your car hydroplaning.

So I hope this article on what does hydroplaning mean in driving and how to prevent hydroplaning has helped you?

Please share if it has helped you.

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