How to Drive Through Hydroplaning
While most drivers have had experience driving through heavy rain, most people don’t think much of the risks and drive as normal. Driving as normal, especially during the beginning of a heavy rainfall, can easily lead to hydroplaning, and losing control of your vehicle. While the best way to deal with hydroplaning is to drive defensively, reduce your speed and avoid hydroplaning to begin with, there are ways to drive through hydroplaning if you feel your car starting to skid.
Your main focus when driving through severe rain is to avoid hydroplaning in the first place. There are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of hydroplaning. The first thing you’ll want to do is reduce your speed. Hydroplaning is caused by a loss of traction of your tires against the road. This is usually due to either a build up of oils on the road being pulled up to the surface by rainwater, or in cases where there is water build up, the treads for your tires filling with water and preventing proper traction. Reducing your speed allows for your tires to more properly grip the road even with the build up of water, as well as allows you more time to regain control if you do start to hydroplane. You’ll also want to avoid large pools of water, and consider gently pumping the brakes to maintain control when reducing speed, as locking the wheels could potentially put your car into a skid.
Starting to Hydroplane
If you are forced to drive through hydroplaning, the first and most important thing to do is not panic, and fight the knee jerk reaction to slam the brakes. You aren’t getting enough traction to begin with, so locking your wheels will only make you lose even more control. Most hydroplaning skids only last a few seconds at most if you just ride it out. Try to avoid any sudden changes in speed, such as braking or accelerating. If you were accelerating at the time of the skid, lift your foot off the pedal. If you were braking, ease your foot off the break.
If you need to avoid something while hydroplaning, there are a few tricks to maintaining some control until your tires regain traction. First, you need to steer your car in the direction you are hydroplaning. While this seems counterintuitive, it actually helps realign your wheels to the road. If you do need to slow down, gently pump the brakes. This gives your tires a chance to catch the road and regain traction while at the same time making sure you maintain control throughout the skid. Once the wheels become locked, you don’t have a way to try to regain traction throughout the skid. If you desperately need to course correct and braking slowly isn’t an option, lightly tap the accelerator while pointing the wheel towards where you want to go. This may give you just enough traction and momentum to adjust your trajectory while skidding.
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