Car aquaplaning can be very scary, especially if you don’t know what’s happening. It’s all the more likely to happen in winter, where wet and dark conditions make driving a little more dangerous.
In this blog, we’re going to explain what aquaplaning is and what you can do to protect yourself and your passengers if it happens to you.
Car aquaplaning, or hydroplaning, occurs when your vehicle hits surface water. It creates a barrier between the surface of the road and your wheels, meaning they’re no longer able to grip the road.
That causes you to lose control of the car as you’re unable to steer, break or accelerate. It can be very scary when this happens and can easily lead to a more serious accident if you are unable to regain control.
Pools of water on the road at more than 2.5mm deep are sufficient to cause your car to aquaplane. If it’s been raining heavily, you need to be careful as you drive and not hit puddles at spend.
There are other factors that can increase your risk of hydroplaning. If your tyres are in poor condition, and are nearing the limits of their legal depth, they are less effective in clearing water and you’re more likely to struggle on wet roads.
The speed at which you hit the surface of the water also influences whether or not you will aquaplane. The faster you’re travelling, the more at risk you are. If it’s raining, or you can see surface water on the roads ahead, slow down.
You’ll be able to tell straightaway if your car has hit surface water. Your engine will sound louder than it normally does and revs will increase. The steering will feel light and the back end of the vehicle may drift from side to side. You’ll temporarily not be able to break, steer or accelerate.
The first thing to remember if your car starts to aquaplane if to not panic. We know it’s not easy, but keeping a calm head will help you regain control of the car and keep everyone safe.
Avoid the temptation to slam on your breaks. If you do, you’re likely to cause the car to spin and lose further control of your vehicle. Instead, ease off the accelerator and hold the wheel straight. When you can feel that the car is back under your control, ease the breaks and reduce your speed.
There are lots of things that you can do to help protect yourself against aquaplaning. Taking care on dark, wet roads by reducing your speed and avoiding jerky, sudden moves.
Before setting off, make sure you’re prepared. Check your tyres and make sure they’re above the legal tread depth, they are your biggest asset on a wet road.
Keep your speed low. There’s no magic speed that will guarantee you won’t hydroplane, we’re sorry to tell you! But a car travelling at 30mph through water will have much more control and grip on the road than one travelling at 50mph.
Take special care on corners or where the road visibility is not good, you don’t know when a puddle might appear. Try and keep your driving smooth, sudden changes in direction or jerky movements make it more likely you’ll lose control of your vehicle.
For more tips on winter driving, check out our blog. We’ve got lots of advice to keep you and your passengers safe.