Hydroplaning: What to do if it Happens to You

Imagine this scenario: you are driving to work or to an appointment somewhere in Nevada when heavy rain starts coming down. You cannot arrive late. As you pull into the parking lot of your destination, you apply the brakes of your car, but instead of your vehicle stopping, you lose control. The car’s tires start sliding across the wet pavement. This situation is referred to as hydroplaning or aquaplaning, and it can be terrifying, even if it only lasts for a second or two.

Understanding Hydroplaning 

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHA), reports that there is an average of more than 5.8 million car crashes annually in America. Of these accidents, 21% can be attributed to weather issues, and a majority of those due to wet conditions. Specifically, 70% of weather-related accidents are due to wet pavement while 46% occur during rainfall. 

Hydroplaning can happen whenever a vehicle’s tires come into contact with a wet surface. Typically, three factors contribute to this phenomenon: tire tread, water depth, and speed. Because tires get worn down over time, those with low tread put drivers at a higher risk of hydroplaning; bald tires are particularly dangerous because they have zero tread. Hydroplaning can occur even with a thin layer of water, although the more water on the ground, the higher the risk of it happening. The faster a vehicle is going on a wet surface, the lower the amount of traction and, therefore, it is easier to lose control.

What to do if You Hydroplane

When a vehicle’s tires encounter more water than they can scatter on the road, traction is lost and hydroplaning happens. Events that typically occur include:

  • Acceleration in the speedometer and engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM);
  • Sudden change in the vehicle’s direction sideways; or
  • Loose and out-of-control car steering wheel.

Hydroplaning can be a scary experience, but there are steps you can take to try to stay safe until it is over:

  • Staying calm: Keep focused and calm while you wait for the skidding to stop, even though your initial reaction is to panic and make impulsive decisions; keep in mind that hydroplaning only lasts for a couple of seconds.
  • Not slamming the brakes: Despite it seeming logical, slamming down on the brakes will make you slide even more; instead, pump on the brakes lightly if you have to use them.
  • Easing off the gas: Because even the smallest acceleration can make it worse, take your foot off the gas pedal slowly; if you are driving a manual vehicle, disengage the clutch.
  • Do not suddenly turn the steering wheel: Turning the steering wheel quickly can make your car skid; so, instead, try to steer in the direction you want to go by maintaining a firm grip on the wheel and making small movements.

Accident Lawyers in Nevada

It is our hope that this list can help you prevent your car from hydroplaning and help you control your vehicle in such a scenario. If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident in Nevada due to hydroplaning or any other reason, contact Matt Pfau Law Group today. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys will fight to get the best outcome possible for you.

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