Long Island averages about 48 inches of precipitation every year. And although we experience four distinct seasons, rainfall is something we can experience at any time of the year. Driving in the rain can be dangerous for a number of reasons, and could potentially cause car accidents. But perhaps the most dangerous hazard that the rain can cause is hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning (or aquaplaning) is when a layer of water builds between the tires of a vehicle and the road surface, leading to a loss of traction and ultimately resulting in a loss of control for the driver. And you might think that only the heaviest of rainstorms would cause a vehicle to hydroplane, but hydroplaning can occur on any wet road surface. In fact, the first 10 minutes of a light rain can be the most dangerous. Hydroplaning can easily cause major motor vehicle accidents, so here are the best tips to prevent you from injuring yourself and others on the road from hydroplaning.
Nowadays, tires have grooves on them that are designed to channel water from beneath the tire. This creates higher friction with the road surface and can help prevent or minimize instances of hydroplaning. So make sure your tires are replaced and rotated regularly. Additionally, always make sure they are properly inflated. This will ensure that they perform as they should in the rain.
In New York, you can be pulled over for driving the speed limit during hazardous road conditions. This is because during conditions like rain, you have increased chances of losing control at higher speeds.
Most automobile safety experts agree that hydroplaning is most likely to occur at speeds greater than thirty-five miles per hour. So keeping a safe speed will greatly reduce the risk of your tires losing traction in the rain. This is especially important when making turns.
Hydroplaning doesn’t only occur when it is raining. Any time there is water on the road there is a chance of your tires losing its traction. Avoid puddles if possible, and always keep both hands on the wheel when you are about to drive over one.
If your car begins to hydroplane, you need all of your focus and control to try to prevent a serious accident from occurring. Putting your car in cruise control will take away precious moments of time you need to stay in control.
Similar to driving on ice, when hydroplaning occurs, you need to do all you can to keep your car in as much control as possible to avoid a collision. If you feel your car “floating” on the water, immediately take your foot off the accelerator. Also, do not try to brake. Doing so could make your car spin out of control.
As your car is slipping, gently turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is hydroplaning. This will help your tires realign with the direction your vehicle is traveling and assist you in regaining steering control.
Finally, once you have successfully gotten your tires to reconnect with the pavement, I suggest pulling over at a safe place for a few moments to calm down. Losing control of a vehicle is scary, and we sometimes need a few breaths before continuing our drive.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.