Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a considerable amount of rain and driving in these conditions increases the risk of your car sliding on wet surfaces (aquaplane), which can be potentially dangerous if you’re unsure how to retain control of your vehicle. To ensure you and your passengers are safe should your vehicle starts to aquaplane, we have a few helpful tips for you to keep in mind.
What is aquaplaning?
During and after heavy rainfall, your vehicle’s wheels can lose traction by lifting off of the road surface because of excess water.
Typically, aquaplaning only lasts for a few seconds, however, if you encounter lots of surface water on the road, this increases the risk. Aquaplaning typically causes drivers to lose control of the steering as tyres lose grip on the road. Once control is lost control the risk of impact with other road users is severely increased.
Aquaplaning can be a frightening for both new and very experienced drivers alike so the more you know about what to do the more likely you are to avoid an accident.
What are the causes of aquaplaning?
Aquaplaning happens when your vehicle’s tyres drive across a layer of water instead of the surface of the road. The water in front of your tyres builds up quicker than they can control and you’ll become aware of this as your steering becomes lighter and road noise decreases.
What to do if your vehicle aquaplanes
When your car is aquaplaning, your natural reaction is to panic and brake harshly. The impact of this is obviously lost because your ability to brake or steer the vehicle is minimised because your tyres need the friction of the road to stop. It’s very important to be calm and focused as this will help you to stay in control of the situation. If your vehicle begins to aquaplane, follow the instructions below:
- Don’t brake harshly
- Reduce your pressure on the accelerator slowly
- Maintain a solid grip on the steering wheel
- Don’t make any sharp turns
How you can avoid aquaplaning
With substantial and almost unprecedented levels of water on the road it’s difficult to completely avoid aquaplaning, however, the following tips can help you:
- Regularly check the overall condition of your tyres and ensure they are not below the legal limit of 1.6mm
- If your car has cruise control, avoid using it in very wet conditions
- Stick to any temporary speed limits e.g. on motorways
- Lower your speed generally
- Avoid areas with excessive flooding
We’d like to know your experiences with aquaplaning, so feel free to leave a comment.
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