With the summer period now behind us and rainy months ahead, it is time to talk about aquaplaning. What does aquaplane mean? How can it affect your driving experience? And what you need to do in order to be properly prepared for frequent and heavy rainfalls.
What is Aquaplaning?
Understanding aquaplaning (aka hydroplaning) is crucial for young drivers, especially during rainy autumn months. The hydroplane definition is rather simple – the term refers to a layer of water that builds between the tires of your vehicle and the road surface. It can be extremely dangerous as it can lead to insufficient traction between the two said surfaces and thus prevent your vehicle from responding to any direct input of controls on the road.
When you drive, almost all the feedback that comes from your car, in terms of handling, is directly pegged to the contact surface between the tires and the road. This surface area decreases in the following cases:
- when you drive too fast
- when your tires are worn out
- when there’s water on the road
Although your car is usually able to push enough water out of the way using its weight, during the so-called aquaplaning, the amount of water increases drastically, and the volume becomes so big that your tires aren’t able to push it aside any longer, thus allowing for a water layer to build up underneath and prevent your car from having enough traction with the road surface.
Safety First: How to Drive During Aquaplaning
1. Stay Calm
If you find yourself in an aquaplaning scenario, it is vital to try to remain calm. In most instances, hydroplaning occurs during short intervals that last merely a few seconds. However, panicking and resorting the wrong response can really make things go wrong and lead to an accident.
2. Do Not Brake or Accelerate
Since the tires of your car don’t have sufficient traction as they are minimally (or not at all) connected to the surface of the road, braking or accelerating won’t do much, due to the layer of water that is present between your tires and tarmac. Plus, braking will only make you have less control of your vehicle while accelerating will, also, result in increased aquaplaning at increased speeds.
3. Release the Accelerator and Try to Regain Control
Allowing your car to slow down naturally, without hitting the brakes is the right way to act. This way, as tires begin to sink back on the surface and start pushing the water away from underneath them, you will be able to gain complete control over your vehicle again.
Hydroplaning Tip: How to Choose Best Performance Tires for The Rainy Days
Opting for winter tires that are designed to cope with high rain and ice is crucial. In order to beat aquaplaning, you will need to choose the ones that have both the sufficient tread depth and the right tread pattern.
When it comes to tread depth, 3 to 4 mm is the bare minimum, if you want your tires to be able to properly divert and expel water from underneath them. As for the patter, it is recommended that you opt for either directional or asymmetric one.
The directional design is great at liquid expulsion and is perhaps the best option for providing resistance to aquaplaning. Asymmetric pattern, on the other hand, features small blocks within a tire that are, also, built to cope with wet surfaces and are recommended for vehicles that have more powerful engines.
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