Direct Line magazine

What’s aquaplaning and how do you avoid it?

Updated on: 10 December 2020

A black car is seen driving through surface water.

Anytime there's standing water on the roads, usually caused by periods of heavy rain, there's a risk you could lose control of your car in an aquaplaning incident. Here’s how you can avoid running into trouble.

What’s aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning is a pretty simple concept. It happens when a layer of surface water prevents a car’s tyres from being able to grip the road. The car ends up ‘floating’ on this water, taking control away from the driver.

The driver won’t regain control of the car until the tyres begin to grip the road.

How do you prevent aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning to some degree can be unavoidable when surface water is on the roads. In these cases, you’d have to question if you should be driving at all.

However, there are some things you can do to reduce the chance of being affected.

Reduce your speed: The slower you go, the more chance your car’s tyres have of being able to clear the water and get a grip on the road. Travelling at a slower speed will also give you more time to observe the road ahead and react accordingly.

Check your tyres: Although 1.6mm is the legal minimum for a tyre’s tread, tyres with less wear and more tread can clear more water from the road, in turn making aquaplaning less likely. A tyre’s ability to clear water is also improved if they are inflated to the correct pressure.

Drive in the path cleared by other cars: Every car on the road will clear away some water. If enough cars follow the same road position, a drier path will appear. Stick to these drier tracks, and you’ll be less likely to lose control.

What should you do when aquaplaning?

Losing control of the car at high speeds is a frightening situation to be in, but you have to stay calm to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident.

There are a number of things you should do:

  1. Let the car slow down naturally by easing your foot off the accelerator. Be sure to turn off cruise control if active.

  2. Don’t hit the brakes as this will cause you to skid uncontrollably.

  3. Don’t adjust the steering as this could cause you to spear off uncontrollably when your tyres grip tarmac again. You should keep the steering following the road.

Source: Auto Express

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