The start of BER months is filled with happy thoughts and hopeful ideas. But aside from these, we are also experiencing rainy showers that yield dangerous driving situations. As motorists, it’s essential to acknowledge the risk of hydroplaning and how to remain safe. For that reason, let’s break down the meaning, causes, and how to avoid the experience altogether. Read our guide below:
What is Hydroplaning?
When you slide your car’s tires across a wet surface for seconds or longer while driving, it means you’re most likely experiencing hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning happens when your tires meet more water on the road surface than they can disperse. The pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water. In this situation, it reduces a driver’s ability to steer and brake.
Bridgestone tires are engineered with tread (grooves) and sipes that assist in channeling water away that is beneath the patch where the tire meets the road. This creates higher friction with the road surface and can help prevent or minimize instances of hydroplaning.
Causes of Hydroplaning
There are 4 factors that cause hydroplaning. It is a combination of road conditions, vehicle speed, tread depth, and vehicle weight. Let’s deep dive into these four factors.
1. ROAD CONDITIONS
During typhoons, as we drive along the road and the water depth on a road surface increases to more than 1/10th of an inch, the risk of hydroplaning worsens. The intensity of the rainfall, type of road surface, and drainage conditions play a critical role in triggering conditions ripe for hydroplaning. Also, keep in mind that the deeper the standing water, the greater the chance for a vehicle to hydroplane.
2. VEHICLE SPEED
Tires need time to evacuate water between their treads and the road surface. The higher the speed, the less time there is for that to happen. Depending on the tires’ tread depth and design, along with the amount of water on the road, hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 mph.
3. TREAD DEPTH
A tire’s tread depth is one of the most critical of all the factors. Even the best tires on the road offer little resistance to hydroplaning when their tread is worn down to 2/32nd of an inch or less, so it’s important that worn tires are replaced as soon as possible to ensure safe driving on wet roads.
4. VEHICLE WEIGHT
When you compare two vehicles equipped with the same size and type of tire, the heavier vehicle holds an advantage in resisting hydroplaning because there’s a greater force to displace water from underneath the tire.
There are plenty of things you can do to prevent hydroplaning while driving. Read some of our tips below:
- If the roads are wet because of the rain, slow down
- Always check your tires if they are properly inflated.
- Get your tires rotated and balanced regularly.
- Stay away from puddles and standing water. If possible, avoid driving through water that has pooled on the road.
- Make the right turn. You may be inclined to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of where your car is sliding. However, that’s not the right move. Instead, turn the wheel toward the direction in which you’re sliding.
- Track vehicles in front of you. If cars ahead of you leave tracks on a slick road, try to drive on those tracks.
- Maintain a safe distance. Even without hydroplaning, stopping distances increase dramatically in the rain. Increase your following distance from the usual 2 or 3 seconds to 3 or 4 seconds or more to allow for this.
Minimize hydroplaning with Bridgestone
Bridgestone offers the best touring and performance tires ideal for any wet roads. Our tires are engineered to keep you safe and give you excellent traction and good performance. You can rely on Bridgestone Dueler’s wet performance with its evacuating sipes and grooves that efficiently channel water away from under the tire, ensuring solid grip and improved safety.
Bridgestone ECOPIA tires help channel water away from the tire through circumferential grooves, which improve resistance to hydroplaning and increase wet traction.
We know that hydroplaning can be challenging for drivers, but keep in mind that if you are prepared (including the installation of the right tires) and if you practice defensive driving techniques, you and your car can overcome it without a scratch. If you still have questions about hydroplaning, schedule an appointment for a tire inspection at an authorized Bridgestone dealer near you. Our dealers can inspect the tread wear on your current tires and suggest ideas on how to enhance your tire and vehicle performance.