What is Hydroplaning and How Should You Handle It?

Hydroplaning can be a scary experience when it happens unexpectedly, but with focus and the proper know-how, you can make it through it without breaking a sweat. Remember all of these tips in case you do hydroplane. That way, you can stay safe on the road, no matter the conditions.

What Causes Hydroplaning?

When your tires encounter more water on the road than they can successfully move out of the way, hydroplaning occurs. Your tires are riding on this layer of water instead of gripping the road as they should be. This continues until you either get through the puddle you are driving through or your tires move away enough of the water. Hopefully, this only lasts for a split second, but it can go on for as long as a few seconds.

What Should I Do When I Hydroplane?

When your vehicle starts to hydroplane, it can be quite unexpected, but you need to be quick to react to safely steer yourself out of danger. The most important first step is to not panic. If you panic and try to jerk the steering wheel, you may make things much worse. Once you are calm and focused, the next thing to do is take your foot off of the gas — but don't hit the brakes. If you continue to accelerate or hit the brakes, you have the potential to start skidding.

Now that you slowed down your acceleration, you have to get the car under control. Maintain firm control of the steering wheel and keep the car going in the direction of the road. This ensures your car will stay in your lane once you exit the hydroplane. As long as you follow these steps, the only thing left to do is to wait for the tires to start making contact with the road again, thus ending the hydroplane. 

Can I Prevent Hydroplaning? 

There are things you can try to help reduce your chances of hydroplaning, but nothing can prevent it completely outside of staying home when it rains. Here are a few ways to decrease your odds of hydroplaning:

  • Pay Attention to Your Tires — Make sure your tires have the proper tread and inflate them to the correct level. Your tires have reduced traction when they aren't in good condition. Learn when it's time to replace your tires.

  • Drive Carefully — Slow down and avoid driving through any puddles you see. The less water you drive through, the less likely you are to hydroplane in the first place. You should also slow down around any sharp bends and avoid changing lanes.

  • Turn Off Cruise Control — Cruise control can cause you to enter a skid if you hydroplane since you don't want to accelerate when you enter one. Keep it off until road conditions return to normal.

  • Follow Other Cars — Try and follow the tire tracks left by the car in front of you. They already cleared the water out of the way, so it is likely a bit safer in their path. Be sure to stay a safe distance behind them in case they start to hydroplane.

Drive Safely Whenever It Rains

Whether it is raining or there are other adverse weather conditions, remaining calm, adjusting to the road conditions, and paying extra attention to your surroundings will get you through most situations. Another way to learn how to drive in any conditions is to sign up for a driver's ed course at DriversEd.com. You can learn the rules of the road from the comfort of your own home with an online course at DriversEd.com for teens or adults.

Get Started with your Online Drivers Ed Course Today

Learn More