How to avoid hydroplaning – and what to do if it happens


tire idriving through hevy rain to illustrate hydroplaning

We all think about tire safety in winter when the roads are snowy or slushy and we adjust our driving accordingly. But what about in the rain? Wet, slick roads with water buildup can be quite hazardous, too. Many drivers are rather cavalier about  adjusting their driving in the rain  and are caught short when something goes wrong, such as hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning – also sometimes called aquaplaning – is losing traction over water while driving, and actually skimming or sliding on the surface of that water. Losing contact with the road is a frightening experience because it results in loss of control of the car. The formula for hydroplaning is speed, tire tread depth and water depth. It’s important to maintain your tires and slow down when it rains. Even a light rain can be hazardous, particularly in the first few minutes as rainfall mixes with oils on the road surface.

Edmunds offers excellent Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain. Also, check out these two videos that talk more about what hydroplaning is and what to do should it occur.

 

Technology helps, but is not a substitute for caution
While driver-assist technologies such as traction control, anti-lock brakes and lane assist technologies can help keep us safer, don’t rely on them. Be cautious and be prepared:

  • Maintain your tires – make sure the tread is good and that they are properly inflated.
  • Slow down when it rains. Many experts suggest reducing speed by about one-third.
  • Avoid standing water.
  • Disable cruise control on wet roads and when raining.
  • Increase the following distance between you and the car ahead.
  • If you do hydroplane, stay calm, ease off the accelerator, and don’t make any sudden moves that may cause a spin out.

Tips for driving safely around large commercial vehicles


Any time you are driving your car on the highway or on your city and town roads, you are navigating a vehicle that weighs about 5,000 pounds, while sharing the road with 12.5 million giant commercial vehicles. A fully loaded bus can weigh 30,000 to 44,000 pounds, according to the American Public Transportation Association. And according to The Truckers’ Report, the legal weight for an eighteen wheeler is 80,000 lbs. Plus, factor in any oversize or overweight permits. The length of time to stop an eighteen wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile.

How confident are you about your driving skills? Having a collision with any other vehicle is a serious matter, but the stakes are even higher when it comes to collision with a 30 or 40 ton vehicle! There are no mere fender benders in an accident pitting your car against this weight class.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued Our Roads, Our Safety, a national safety campaign shaped to raise awareness about sharing the road safely with large trucks and buses. They offer Tips for Passenger Vehicle Drivers, as well as Tips for Bicyclists and Pedestrians, both of which are worth checking out. We found the infographics that illustrate the driver tip list particularly helpful and have reprinted them below. They offer useful visual guides for blind spots and space considerations when driving around large commercial vehicles.

diagram showing how drivers can stay out of blind spots navigating around trucks

diagram showing how to give trucks extra turning space

diagram showing the stopping distance for large vehicles

Bees, spiders and other creepy crawlies can be dangerous driving distractions


frightened driver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings that “Sometimes you’re the windshield / Sometimes you’re the bug.” While millions of bugs fall victim to car windshields every summer, insects have a way of getting their revenge. A single wayward bug loose in a car can cause a serious transportation accident. It’s impossible to know just how often this occurs. On the top 10 list of driving distractions, a “moving object in the vehicle” (which is defined as a pet or an insect) logs in as #9, accounting for 1% of all accidents. One percent doesn’t sound like very much, but when you consider there are more than 5 million car crashes in the U.S. each year, one percent totals 50,000 accidents. That’s a heck of a lot of accidents due to cats, dogs, bees and spiders.

We can and certainly should take steps to secure our pets in our vehicles – but it’s a little harder to keep winged or crawling creatures out. And if a stinging insect begins flying around the car or a scary looking spider is running around the dashboard, it can take nerves of steel to avoid distraction. Some people have an almost reflexive avoidance reaction that could put themselves or other drivers in jeopardy.

When driving, it’s essential that you steel yourself to focus on the road and the wheel, no matter what the distraction that might be going on in the car. Job number one is to keep control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe stop in a place that you can give attention to the crisis. Easier said than done if you are an arachnophobic or bee-phobic, we know!

Sometimes nature can deliver bigger surprises than just a wasp or a house spider. could you keep your cools with these creatures in the car?

Sometimes insects can be a hazard even when they are not inside the car. Check out this recent infestation of mayflies that made driving just about impossible in Havna, Ilinois.

Here are some tips to prevent getting creatures in your car, and some tips for what to do should they surprise you while you are driving:

Critter prevention

  • Keep car windows closed at night.
  • Don’t store food that might be attractive to rodents in your car or near your car.
  • If you fear that a cat, rodent, or snake might be attracted to the warmth of your engine, bang on the hood a few times before you enter and start the car.
  • Make sure any pets are secured in escape proof enclosures or secured in a seat.
  • Keep car windows closed while driving.

Dealing with a creature crisis while driving

  • If there is an insect or critter in your car, it is essential to keep your eyes on the road not on the critter. Grit your teeth, scream if you have to, but keep your hands firmly on the wheel
  • If it is a flying insect, open the windows to give it an exit path
  • Carefully pull over to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. Use care exiting the car if you are on a highway or traffic route.
  • If it is a bee or an insect, you should be able to focus on extricating it while parked.
  • If the pest is something more exotic like snake or a rodent, you may need to call a local wildlife specialist to safely remove it.