Every year, thousands of people are killed and tens of thousands more suffer injuries in car accidents on Texas roads and highways. According to the Federal Highway Administration, weather conditions are a contributing factor in about 21 percent of all car accidents. Rain, in particular, can make the roads dangerous.

What is Hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning occurs when the tires on a car begin to lose contact with the road surface below. Specifically, hydroplaning means that there’s more water on the roads than the treads of the tire can handle.

As a result, the vehicle essentially floats on the water above the road. This makes it incredibly difficult to control the vehicle and drive safely.

When Does Hydroplaning Occur?

Hydroplaning can happen whenever you drive on slick or wet roads, especially if you’re speeding or driving over 35 MPH. However, statistically speaking, hydroplaning is most likely to occur during the first ten minutes of a light rainstorm.

Why? Light rain mixes with oil residue on the road, creating an incredibly slick surface. Tires have trouble maintaining traction, which causes the vehicle to drift.

Most drivers are careful when it’s pouring rain, snowing, or sleeting. Fewer drivers become more cautious when it’s misting or drizzling outside. Unfortunately, this is when hydroplaning is most likely to occur.

Safe Driving Practices to Avoid Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning can be scary. It can also lead to a devastating motor vehicle accident. Fortunately, you can take certain precautions to prevent hydroplaning if you’re driving in the rain.

Always Keep Your Tires Fully Inflated

Hydroplaning occurs when your tires lose contact with the road surface. To maximize your tread, keep your tires fully inflated.

Replace Worn Out Tires With Low Treads

Tire maintenance is incredibly important. Deep treads help your tires grip the road surface. If your treads are barely visible, it’s tough for the rubber to grip the asphalt. Replace your tires when broken or if the tread is too low.

Slow Down When It’s Raining

Hydroplaning is most likely to occur when there’s a light rain and you are driving at a speed of 35 miles per hour or above. The first thing you should do when it starts to drizzle is to check your speed. Slow down and take it easy. This is the number one way to avoid hydroplaning.

Don’t Rely on Cruise Control

Cruise control is convenient. However, you have more control over the vehicle when you are controlling the speed yourself. In fact, cruise control increases the risk of hydroplaning because the car is always trying to maintain a constant speed.

Drive in Another Vehicle’s Tire Tracks

Try to follow the path of the vehicles in front of you. There will be less rain in these tracks. Your tires will have a better opportunity to grip the road surface.

Don’t Brake or Accelerate Suddenly

Stopping or speeding up suddenly on a slick surface can increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Pick up speed slowly. Come to a stop slowly. In fact, you should give yourself extra distance to come to a complete stop than you would under dry conditions. As a rule of thumb, give yourself twice as much room to stop.

Avoid Driving in Lanes Where Water Accumulates

The more water there is on the road, the harder it will be for your tires to maintain contact. Take a look at the road and determine which lanes have the least amount of water accumulated on them. Switch to that lane and then stay put. Typically, the outer lanes will have the most water because of the way roads are designed to drain.

If you have to drive through puddles or standing water, take it slow. Speed increases the risk of hydroplaning.

Am I Responsible If I Get into an Accident While Hydroplaning?

Maybe, but not necessarily. It would depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your accident.

You can be liable for an accident when you are negligent. Negligence occurs when you are careless and don’t use the caution that’s necessary to keep others safe.

If you did everything in your power to prevent hydroplaning, but it happened anyway, you probably wouldn’t be considered negligent. If you’re not negligent, you won’t be on the hook for damages.

Anyone injured in the accident would have to turn to an insurance company – or another negligent party – for financial assistance.

Have you been in an accident in and need assistance? Call the personal injury lawyers in Austin at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP today for a free consultation.