A car aquaplanes through water
In last week’s post we included some pointers for staying safe when driving through the stormy weather which Britain has been experiencing lately. Whilst 70 mph gales, waves breaking over flood defences and falling trees are all dangers to be aware of, we thought it was worth focusing in on one factor which can affect drivers facing “normal” rainfall as well as extreme weather.
What is Aquaplaning?
“Aquaplaning: verb- UK / US: hydroplaning: a situation in which a vehicle slides out of control on a wet road”
Whilst this Oxford English Dictionary definition tells us a good overall meaning of the term, it doesn’t help to understand how it happens and what to do if it does.
What Happens when a Car Aquaplanes?
In normal, wet conditions, as a car travels along the water forms a wave in front of each tyre and moves around it. This is because the pressure of the tyre on the road is greater than the pressure of the water beneath it. The treads also help to keep the tyres in contact with the surface of the road, by funnelling the water away from the rubber connecting with the road.
When the water on the road reaches a great enough depth, particularly if there has been a sudden storm without enough time for the water to drain away, the pressure of the water pushing up underneath the tyre can exceed that of the tyre pushing down. This prevents the tyre from being able to displace the water and lifts the car off the surface of the road. In some conditions, if the car is going fast enough, the water can even roll on top of the tyre, eliminating the tyre’s grip. In fact, the very rubber of the tyre itself, which hugs to the road in dry conditions, has been shown to increase the risk of aquaplaning, because it seals tiny pits in the road surface that are full of water, which would otherwise add to the friction.
How to Reduce the Risk
What to Do if Your Car Aquaplanes
Safety is THE number one concern when travelling by car and we hope this information will help you to stay safe in wet conditions.