Hydroplaning – A Hidden Road Danger

Thursday, 3 March 2016 8:26:08 PM Australia/Sydney

Have you ever experienced your vehicle losing traction when driving on wet roads? Basically, when you drive, tyres roll on the road surface and you control the speed and traction by controlling the vehicle’s acceleration, braking, and steering. But, these controls seem to be compromised on wet roads.


Hydroplaning occurs mostly during the first rain after a dry spell as the mix of water, oil and dirt on the road becomes very slippery and reduces your vehicle’s grip on the road. Within a moment you can totally lose control over your vehicle as the tyres are unable to maintain contact with the road surface. This happens because of Hydroplaning or Aquaplaning.


What is Hydroplaning?

It can be defined as the sliding of vehicles when tyres lose contact with the wet road because of a thin film of water contaminated with oil and dirt over the road surface. The resultant loss of traction creates skidding and loss of control.


Physics Behind Hydroplaning

When tyres roll over the wet surface so fast that they are incapable of dissipating the water on the road from the point of contact of the tyre, this builds up water pressure and raises the tyre off its surface. A thin layer of water is formed in between the tyre and its path, this reduces the friction of tyre with roads and hence vehicles lose their traction and cannot respond to their control systems.


Hydroplaning proved to be very dangerous especially on highways where vehicles run over a speed of 80 KMH. According to an Australian report into the role of tyre pressure in vehicle safety, 24% of accidents happen due to wet weather. Of these, 30 % of fatal accidents occur due to poor braking in wet weather and 9% of fatal accidents occur due to loss of traction.


How to Regain Control When Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is a common thing to be seen during heavy rains. However, its magnitude depends on various parameters such as speed, tyre tread, tyre width and the conditions of roads too.


The best way to avoid accident risks in rains is to go slow. Faster cars tend to hydroplane more and this results in mishaps. Worn out tyres increases the risk of aquaplaning because of less tread depth and ineffective tread patterns cannot channel water displacement while driving. Also, narrow tyres are more prone to hydroplaning on wet roads.


Importantly, when you feel that your vehicle is hydroplaning, do not go all bonkers on braking and steering. Put your feet off the accelerator, let the vehicle drive and slow down on its own. It is advised not to press brakes or oversteer.


Apart from a tyre’s tread pattern, there are a lot of things which need to be checked for a tyre to be roadworthy. This includes tread depth, speed and load ratings, tyre cracks or bulges which can be examined quickly by a licensed vehicle tester.


Visit your nearby tyre dealer, or visit www.cartyresandyou.com.au to find out more about tyre maintenance that keeps your tyres safe.

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Car Tyres & You

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