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How to Help Prevent Hydroplaning

Some things you can't help but worry about. When you drive your vehicle every day, there are many safety risks that you should protect yourself against by driving responsibly and equipping your vehicle with the right parts. Hydroplaning is one concern that every driver faces. This dangerous but common occurrence on the road can cause serious accidents. In order to avoid hydroplaning, it's necessary for you to better understand the phenomenon as well as how to prevent it.

What is Hydroplaning?

When your vehicle hydroplanes on a wet roadway your tires lose contact with the road. The result is a loss of your ability to control your speed, to brake, and to steer. This occurs on wet roads with enough rain or other moisture to develop a pool or sheet of water across a roadway. In turn, this water can prevent the tires from actively remaining in contact with the paved surface. The tires glide across the water instead of gripping the road.

Hydroplaning causes many accidents each year. They most often occur when drivers can't see or can't avoid water that has collected on the road in front of them. If you've ever experienced an episode of hydroplaning, you know how scary it can be. Even the most skilled driver will struggle to navigate out of a hydroplane. Hydroplaning is made even more dangerous when it occurs in traffic.

There are two major factors that will help you avoid hydroplaning. The first and most important is the way you drive. Knowing how to handle wet roads is the easiest and best way to keep yourself and others safe. When driving in wet conditions, nothing can be taken for granted. The roadways can become very slippery as the first moisture hits them, and then can become quite treacherous when low-lying areas or heavy rain can cause water levels to rise on everything from surface streets to freeways. The best tip to avoid hydroplaning during wet weather? Slow down and whenever possible avoid puddles, no matter how shallow they may seem. If you can't avoid them, slow down before driving through them.

Fitting your vehicle with a quality set of tires and proper tire maintenance are two more ways to avoid hydroplaning. Worn, bald, or improperly inflated tires become a hazard on wet, paved surfaces.

How Quality Tires Help Avoid Hydroplaning

Tires rely on sufficient tread in order to maintain in excellent contact with the road. The area of the tire that grips the road as the wheel rotates is called the contact patch, or footprint. When tires become worn, they will provide less traction, especially during wet weather driving. Even tires that possess enough tread for driving in dry conditions can struggle when moisture is added to the equation. The tread and tread void areas of tires designed for wet weather are engineered to channel water out, away from the footprint, allowing for better driving during the rain. Tires meant for rain or other wet weather conditions often feature deep grooves at the center and outer shoulder of the tires. These grooves point in different directions to guide water out from underneath the tire.

If you live in a wet weather environment where rain, snow and sleet are prominent seasonal forms of precipitation, it may be worthwhile to invest in a set of tires that are geared toward driving in such conditions and make sure to replace your tires when they're worn. Nearly all of the premium tire brands offer several tire models that are sufficient for wet weather driving without sacrificing the performance desired in dry driving conditions. Some examples of tire types suitable for wet weather are all season tires and winter tires. However, you should only use winter tires when the temperature is consistently colder than 45 degrees F.