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How dangerous is hydroplaning?

| Jun 23, 2021 | Car Accidents |

Recently, a multi-car crash in Alabama resulted in 10 fatalities, including nine children. While the accident investigation is ongoing, reporting from NBC news indicates hydroplaning may be to blame for the crash.

Hydroplaning is possible anytime water is on the roadway. Because of the afternoon thunderstorms that regularly roll through Tennessee in the summer months, drivers may be particularly vulnerable to serious injuries in July, August and September.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is a physical phenomenon where your vehicle’s tires skid on a thin layer of water. Whether your vehicle may hydroplane depends on three factors:

  • The depth of the water on the roadway
  • The depth of your vehicle’s tire treads
  • The velocity of your vehicle

When a road is wet, your vehicle’s tires have a challenging time gripping the surface. As your speed increases, you naturally lose traction. Consequently, if your vehicle hydroplanes, you may not be able to maintain control of it.

When does hydroplaning occur?

Hydroplaning occurs when water accumulates under a vehicle’s tires. While the weight of most cars, trucks and SUVs is usually sufficient to disperse water, thunderstorms may drop moisture faster than a vehicle’s weight can handle.

Does hydroplaning require puddles?

There is a common misconception that hydroplaning requires puddles. In fact, it is possible for a vehicle to hydroplane on roads that only look wet. Therefore, if conditions are optimal for hydroplaning, reducing your vehicle’s speed and increasing your following distance may save your life.

While you can take steps to avoid hydroplaning, other drivers may not be so careful. Ultimately, if a hydroplane-related accident causes you to suffer catastrophic injuries, you may need to pursue financial compensation from the driver who drove too fast for weather conditions.