Driving in the rain and avoiding hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is always a risk while driving in the rain

Some people, like myself, enjoy driving in the rain. Most people however don’t enjoy it and can find it scary. Sometimes however it’s unavoidable, so what can you do to make it safer?

The first thing you can do is make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for all driving conditions.

Make sure your windows are clean on the inside. This greatly reduces glare in darker and low visibility situations like when it’s raining. A microfiber cloth and some window cleaner will make it a quick and easy job. People tend to overlook cleaning the inside of their windows, but you should do it regularly.

Always make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and working properly. Winter can really play havoc on windshield wipers. Replace them immediately when they start streaking. Take some time to get comfortable with all the different settings your wipers have.

Make sure your windshield washer fluid is always topped off. Never use water, always use windshield washer fluid. It does a better job of keeping your windshield clean. Plain water or diluted fluid can freeze and cause expensive repairs.

Always ensure that you have proper tires for the season and that they are in good condition. Poor tires are a huge safety risk.

See that your headlights, fog lights, and other lights you may have, are all working. It’s amazing how many vehicles we see on the road with one or more lights out.

Knowing that your vehicle is properly prepared for poor weather driving will give you more confidence out there on the road.

Even if both you and your car are properly prepared hydroplaning is always a risk while driving in the rain.

Hydroplaning strips you of the ability to steer your car, and causes feelings of terrifying helplessness. It happens when the tires of your vehicle begin to ride on top of standing water instead of the surface of the road. It can even happen when the roads are only slightly damp.

Avoiding hydroplaning is not that hard if you know how it happens. Most experts offer the following tips to avoid hydroplaning:

Reduce your speed – Speed limits are maximum driving speeds under ideal conditions. Slowing down under less than ideal conditions is much safer and is the law. Hydroplaning is most likely to occur at speeds greater than 50 kilometres per hour. As soon as the first few drops hit your windshield, slow your speed considerably. Sudden increases in speed, like when passing, put you at a greater danger of hydroplaning. Avoid sudden accelerations at all costs.

No cruise control – It’s dangerous to have cruise control on while driving in the rain, so never use your cruise control function while it is raining or while driving on wet roads. If you were to begin hydroplaning the cruise control could cause your vehicle to respond unpredictably and it would take additional time for you to disable the function before beginning to regain control of your vehicle.

Avoid puddles and standing water – Try to avoid any place on the roadway that you can see has collected water. It only takes a small film of water to cause hydroplaning. If you can actually see standing water, there is a much higher risk that your vehicle will hydroplane as it drives over it.

Sometimes hydroplaning occurs no matter how careful or prepared you are. If your vehicle begins hydroplaning on a wet road surface, there are several steps to take to regain control:

1 – Immediately take your foot off of the accelerator. Never use your brakes to respond to hydroplaning. Sudden braking on a wet road can cause your car to skid completely out of control.

2 – Although it may seem contradictory, gently turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is hydroplaning. This will help your tires realign with the direction your vehicle is travelling and assist you in regaining steering control.

3 – Wait to feel the tires reconnect with the surface of the road. It will be obvious to the driver when the vehicle has driven out of the hydroplaning situation.

4 – After successfully recovering from hydroplaning on a wet road, you may need to pull over and take a few moments to recover and calm down from this terrifying event.

Remember that hydroplaning can happen in an instant and can be terrifying. However if you and your vehicle are properly prepared you will greatly reduce the risk of it happening.

Catch Driving, with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

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