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How to Avoid Aquaplaning and How to Prevent it?

Aquaplaning is a phenomenon that occurs when a vehicle loses contact with the road surface due to water accumulation. This causes the driver to lose control, unable to steer, brake, or accelerate, which can lead to accidents. Therefore, extra caution is necessary when driving in wet conditions or heavy rainfall. 

 

How Aquaplaning Occurs and What Are the Risks?  

Aquaplaning can occur on wet surfaces when there is water buildup on the road. When this happens, the tyre demonstrates a significant loss of drivability because it loses contact with the road and begins to slide on the layer of water. It’s an extremely dangerous situation because it’s difficult to control the vehicle responsively, and abrupt braking can cause the car to skid or lead to even more serious accidents, such as rollovers. 

By losing control of the vehicle, the driver puts themselves in a very dangerous position, not only for themselves but also for other vehicles and pedestrians on the road. It’s important to be aware of the risks of aquaplaning and how to avoid injuries and losses in such situations. 

The occurrence of aquaplaning is exacerbated at high speeds, so it’s important to reduce acceleration when driving in wet weather. Due to the water-covered surface, braking distance is also severely compromised, underscoring the importance of this precaution. When braking on water, due to reduced grip, the vehicle slides more, compromising safety. Therefore, it’s important that your tyres are in good condition, and that you drive cautiously. 

 

How to Check Tyre Condition and Reduce Aquaplaning? 

The risk of aquaplaning is something every driver should be vigilant about. Besides being dangerous during driving, it can cause loss of direction and stability, leading to serious accidents. 

Of course, you cannot control whether a road is wet or not, but with tyres in good condition, designed with technologies for such situations, it’s possible to reduce the risk of aquaplaning and have a safer and more stable driving experience even in wet road conditions. To check tyre condition and prevent aquaplaning, you should pay attention to some points: 

  • Regularly check tyre inflation and keep them at the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Incorrect inflation can reduce the tyre’s ability to drain water and increase wear. 
  • Periodically rotate the tyres so that they wear evenly. Rotation should be done according to the vehicle’s manual and tyre manufacturer’s guidelines. 
  • Tyres with more tread increase the contact surface with the road, providing better grip and reducing the risk of losing traction and skidding.
  • Reduce speed when driving in rain or on wet roads. The higher the speed, the greater the chance of aquaplaning, as tyres cannot channel water quickly enough. You should reduce your speed in wet weather and drive to the conditions.
  • Avoid the most flooded sections or areas with puddles of water. Try to follow the tyre tracks of vehicles ahead, as they have already drained some of the water. 
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and avoid sudden braking or abrupt changes in direction. If you feel the car is drifting from side to side, grip the steering wheel firmly, gently easing off the accelerator, and avoid braking. Wait for the car to regain contact with the ground and regain control. 
  • Check tyre wear and tread depth monthly. The more tread depth, the more water the tyres can disperse. In New Zealand, tyre tread must have a minimum depth of 1.5 millimetres.

 

What Speed Does Aquaplaning Occur At? 

Aquaplaning can occur at speeds as low as 55 km/h (about 35 mph) on wet roads, but the risk increases with higher speeds, worn tyres, and deeper water on the road. 

 

How Does Tread Depth Affect the Risk of Aquaplaning? 

Adequate tread depth is crucial for effective water evacuation from the contact patch between the tyre and the road. Tyres with deeper tread patterns are better at dispersing water, maintaining traction, and preventing aquaplaning. Regularly check your tread depth and replace tyres that are worn down. 

 

So, remember these 5 tips to help you avoid aquaplaning: 

  1. Be aware of the conditions: Always check the weather forecast before driving, especially for longer journeys where conditions can change.
  2. Adjust your speed: Driving at higher speeds reduces tyre grip on wet roads. When rain mixes with grime and oil on the road, it creates slick conditions that are ideal for skidding. Driving slower ensures that more of the tyre’s tread can grip the road, improving traction.
  3. Maintain tyre condition: Ensure your tyres are in good condition and properly inflated to prevent aquaplaning. Worn tread may not effectively clear water from the road.
  4. Drive smoothly: Avoid sudden manoeuvres, particularly on wet surfaces. Smooth driving reduces the risk of losing control.
  5. Follow the tracks: When possible, follow the path of vehicles ahead to navigate through water already displaced by their tyres, maintaining a safe distance to avoid aquaplaning. 

Stay safe on wet roads and happy motoring! 

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