Anyone who has hydroplaned in their car can attest to how frightening the experience can be. Here in Seattle, many of us have gotten used to driving in the rain, but as the weather gets worse, the risk of hydroplaning increases. Some of the worst car accidents I have seen in my career as a personal injury lawyer were the result of a driver losing control of his or her vehicle in the rain. To prevent these accidents, which can lead to serious injury, it is important for people to know both how to reduce the risk of hydroplaning, and what to do if your vehicle begins to skid.
Reducing the risk: When a car hydroplanes, it means that the tires lose grip with the road and slide over the water that covers it. One of the most important factors in causing this to happen is the speed of the vehicle. Driving in the rain at high speeds is essentially the same as driving on ice. As speed increases, there is more water pressure going through the tread of the tires, and at a certain point, the weight of the vehicle is no longer able to keep traction on the road. While speeding is a common cause of hydroplaning, so is immediately slamming on the brakes. Sudden braking in the rain will usually result in the car skidding with no driver control over the direction. To prevent this from happening, it is very important to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, so you can gently ease on the break when necessary.
Along with how you drive in the rain, another important factor in hydroplaning is the quality of your tires. When they are worn down and lacking significant tread, the water on the road cannot be displaced out from underneath the tires. Tread depth and pattern, along with the tire size and pressure are key components in driving safely in wet conditions.
What to do if your vehicle hydroplanes: While the risk of hydroplaning can be significantly reduced by driving slower and having good tires, it is important to know exactly what to do if you start to lose control of your vehicle. Sometimes it is not easy to know if you are hydroplaning, but when it is serious, you will recognize the lack of power you have over what the car is doing. When it happens, the most critical things to avoid are immediately slamming on the brakes, and turning the steering wheel. Both of these can force your car to skid and potentially turn sideways. What you should do, is hold on to the steering wheel tightly, and ease off of the accelerator. Hold the steering wheel to go in a forward direction, but if you feel the rear tires hydroplaning, you can turn it into the skid to gain traction before turning it back to go straight. If your car has an anti-lock braking system, you can brake normally to slow down the car. For vehicles that do not have ABS, the best way to stop is by lightly pumping the brake.
Hydroplaning is very dangerous and can lead to serious auto accident injuries. If you have been hit by someone who was hydroplaning and would like to speak with an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer, give our office a call at 206-285-1743.
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Jason Epstein, an attorney based in Seattle, has years of experience dealing with the kinds of injuries that result from weather-related accidents. He has helped hundreds of Seattle auto accident injury victims get the compensation they deserve from the insurance companies. In every case, having the best possible auto insurance coverage has made a huge difference. How do you know what coverage to get? Jason’s book The Truth About Buying Washington Auto Insurance explains how to make sure you and your loved ones receive the best possible coverage — and how it is much more affordable than you think. This book is FREE and can be ordered on our website.