Wed09172014

On The Road

Risky roads: Beware of hydroplaning while driving in wet conditions

A puddle of water can be dangerous. Rainstorms that create slick roadways threaten drivers with losing control of their vehicles.

In many instances, hydroplaning uncontrollably can be avoided, according to the American Automobile Association of Northern California.

If you just act like the rain isn't there, you could be in trouble. You have to change the way you drive in wet conditions. If you know what to do in an emergency, you are more likely to stay in control and avoid a dangerous crash.

The quantity of water on the road, speed and tire condition affect a car's ability to maintain its traction with the road. To avoid hydroplaning, the AAA advises drivers to remember the following:

• Be aware of potential hydroplaning conditions: standing water, raindrops bubbling on the road, or a sloshing sound from your tires.

• Steering is preferred to braking at speeds above 25 mph because less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In wet weather, sudden braking often leads to skids.

• Slow down, avoid braking hard or turning sharply, drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

With only 1/12th of an inch of water between the tires and the road, each tire has to displace a gallon of water per second. Maintaining good tread and properly inflating tires will increase traction and allow water to escape from under the tires.

• Choose a speed consistent with the amount of water on the road. At 30 mph or less, properly inflated tires with good tread will maintain contact. Even new tires will lose some footprint contact at speeds as low as 35 mph. At 60 mph, water may separate the tire from the road and cause hydroplaning.

• Prevent moisture from collecting on the inside of windows by moving the heat control to "hot" and letting the car warm up before turning on defrosters/blowers.

• Turning on the air conditioner, even in cold weather, can help remove moisture from the air and clear the windshield more rapidly. Make sure the insides of the windshield and rear windows are clean. Dirty windows tend to fog up more than ones with clean surfaces.

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