Staying safe in storm season: How to regain control of your vehicle while hydroplaning

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The tragic and deadly accident in Butler County over the weekend is believed to have been caused by hydroplaning- when a vehicle slides uncontrollably on the wet surface of a road.

“Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour, but the faster you go, the less depth of water you need to hydroplane,” Dr. Benjamin McManus, Assistant Director for UAB’s Transitional Research for Injury Prevention (TRIP) Lab, explains. “So really all you need is depth of about a tenth of an inch for at least a ten yard stretch. You can hydroplane at speeds at 50 mph with just a tenth of an inch over ten yards distance.”

While the best way to prevent hydroplaning is simply to lower your speed when roads are wet, there are a few things drivers can do to avoid an accident if they find themselves hydroplaning, according to McManus.

  1. Coast. Do not press the brake or gas. Neither will help.
  2. If you feel your vehicle swaying, steer into the sway. If your tail end is swaying toward the right, turn your steering wheel that

“You don’t want to make any sudden movements,” McManus said. “Essentially, you are now skiing on the water. So if you are hydroplaning, a sudden slam on the brake won’t help the situation nor do you want to accelerate to that.”

For more safe driving tips, visit he TRIP Lab homepage here.

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