During drought conditions, hydroplaning is usually furthest from a driver’s mind. That being said, even a small amount of rain can cause flooding over the roadways. hydroplaning by the tires of a road vehicle, aircraft or other wheeled vehicle occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheels of the vehicle and the road surface, leading to a loss of traction that prevents the vehicle from responding to control inputs.
To understand how hydroplaning works, you need to understand how traction works. Traction is the friction that builds up between the tires and the pavement. Rolling traction is the interaction between the tire and the surface, this results in forward motion. When it’s raining and water covers the road the tires can’t get traction. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires move too quickly over the wet surface that they don’t have time to displace enough water to contact the surface. At that point the water lifts the tires from the surface and BAM! You’re hydroplaning! Speed, road conditions and tire wear all play a role in hydroplaning, but the main cause is water depth. Hydroplaning can happen whenever water accumulates to a depth of one-tenth of inch. All-wheel-drive vehicles are more likely to hydroplane than a two wheel drive vehicle, this is because of their computerized differentials may shift power from the front to the rear tires and that results in hydroplaning. On the other hand heavier vehicles are less prone to hydroplaning.
Regardless of what kind or type of vehicle you drive there are a few things you can do to prevent hydroplaning. First, SLOW DOWN! Speed increases the likelihood of hydroplaning. Watch the drivers ahead of you. If you see erratic steering from them, then it’s almost sure fire that there is going to be a dangerous patch ahead.
If you find yourself hydroplaning don’t panic and don’t hit the brakes! Hold the steering wheel firmly, keep the front of the car pointed straight ahead and steer just enough to keep going forward. Take your foot off the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down on its own.