Adverse weather plays a factor in thousands of fatal car accidents every year. While ice and snow can be quite dangerous, the primary weather condition that leads to deadly crashes is rain.
That’s both because heavy rains are more common than snow and because drivers tend to adjust their driving behavior far more in the snow than they do in the rain. Drivers losing control of their vehicles while traveling through standing water can be disastrous.
Factors That Lead to Hydroplaning
There are several factors that can come into play and lead to a car hydroplaning out of control.
The first ingredient in a recipe for hydroplaning is standing water on the road. Standing water on the roadway during or after heavy rain can occur due to roads and drainage systems that were either poorly designed or poorly constructed. Problems can also arise due to a lack of road maintenance.
Sometimes standing water alone is enough to cause hydroplaning on a busy freeway road. However, for the perfect recipe, you need to add a couple of more ingredients. The next step in creating the ideal conditions for a hydroplaning accident is the vehicle.
A car with tires that are bald or that have very little tread, and are underinflated, is at high risk of hydroplaning when driving on wet roads.
Tires need to have a deep tread in order to sift the water through the wheel. When lacking tread, much of the water will stay between the wheel and the road.
This will cause your vehicle to lose contact with the road surface. When the tires of your vehicle can not grip the roadway, you are no longer in control of your vehicle, and simply have to hope not to cause an accident while you wait for your wheels to regroup the road.
Lightweight vehicles are also far more likely to hydroplane as gravity can greatly help larger vehicles to displace the water beneath them and maintain contact with the road.
The third ingredient for the perfect hydroplaning recipe is the driver. A driver traveling too fast for the weather conditions is far more likely to lose control of their vehicle when they encounter water on the road.
Inexperience in driving in wet conditions can also be a dangerous factor. When drivers feel their tires begin to lose contact with the road, an inexperienced driver is likely to panic and either attempt to steer out of it or brake too hard.
These reactions are not going to help a driver regain control and, on the contrary, will likely exacerbate the situation. As a result, the car could completely lose control and either slam into another vehicle, leave the road, or both.
How to Prevent Hydroplaning
There are things that you can do to help decrease your chances of becoming involved in a hydroplaning accident on every front, although your amount of control over some areas is greater than others.
While you can’t directly improve the roadways, you can support government initiatives to do so. Voting for proposals to improve roadways can be a way to indirectly increase your safety while on the road.
As far as the factors that are more in your direct control, some of the things you can do to avoid becoming involved in a hydroplaning accident are:
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained, in particular when it comes to your tires.
- Lower your speed appropriately in adverse weather conditions.
- Keep your eyes on the road and look out for standing water.
- Be aware of the vehicles around you and drive defensively.
- Do not use cruise control in rainy weather.
- Do not overreact if you find yourself beginning to hydroplane.
It can be a very frightening feeling to lose your grip on the roadway beneath you. However, you can often get out of the situation safely as long as you do not panic.
When you feel yourself begin to hydroplane, there are safety steps you can take to regain control of your vehicle. Take these steps when you start to hydroplane, and you will probably be able to make it through safely:
- Take your foot off of the gas.
- Don’t slam down on the brakes.
- Lightly tap the brakes when you feel your tires come back in contact with the road.
- Keep the wheel straight as long as the road allows.
- Do not try to turn unless a curve in the road forces you to make the attempt.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid a hydroplaning accident is to stay off the road when weather conditions are poor, whenever possible. When you don’t have to drive in adverse weather, it is best to avoid it altogether.
Hurt in a Hydroplaning Accident
Even if you are taking all of the necessary precautions when driving in wet weather, things can still go wrong. While you may manage to avoid hydroplaning, another driver on the road with you might not.
When another driver hydroplanes out of control and crashes into your vehicle, you may suffer serious injuries.
When injured in a car accident, even if you are dealing with a car insurance company and no lawsuits are involved, you are still going to want to contact a car accident attorney.
Insurance companies are not in the business of paying out claims. They will do everything in their power to deny your claim, and if there is no legal reason for them to do so, then they will try to undervalue your claim.
By hiring an attorney, you are putting yourself in a position to receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Even though you will have to pay the attorney, the cost of doing so will likely be far less than the difference in the money you would receive from the insurance company, without them by your side.
Insurance companies know all of the tricks to undervalue your claim, and car accident attorneys know how to counter all of those tricks.