Hydroplaning: More Dangerous Than You Think

Cars driving on wet road at an intersection.

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Spinning, slipping and sliding are great when you're on an amusement park ride, but they can be deadly when you're in a car.

Wet roads increase the risk of hydroplaning, which occurs when a thin layer of water separates tires from the roadway. Hydroplaning reduces your ability to stop or steer, a feeling similar to sliding on ice. According to the American Safety Council's SafeMotorist.com, the most dangerous conditions arise during the first 10 minutes of a light rain shower, when water mixes with oil on the road to create an especially slippery surface. To decrease your chances of hydroplaning, the council recommends that you:

  • Keep your tires properly inflated and rotate them periodically.
  • Slow down when roads are wet.
  • Steer clear of puddles and standing water.
  • Avoid driving in outer lanes where water tends to accumulate.
  • Follow in the tracks left by cars ahead of you.
  • Drive in a lower gear.
  • Turn off the cruise control.
  • Avoid hard stops and sharp turns. 

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