Hydroplaning: What It Is and How to Avoid It
Hydroplaning is a dangerous driving situation that lasts for only a moment but can cause serious car accidents. It can occur on any road, but especially in Hawaii, where weather conditions can change remarkably fast and rainfall can be heavy.
What Is Hydroplaning?
Wet pavement creates an unpredictable hazard for even the best drivers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 3,400 people each year are killed and more than 357,300 are injured when it’s raining.
Essentially, hydroplaning is skidding on water. Car & Driver Magazine describes hydroplaning as a sign that your tires have lost traction. They are unable to scatter the water in their path. In these fleeting moments, you become more of a passenger in the car and no longer a driver. Understandably, this can be a frightening and dangerous experience.
What Causes a Car to Hydroplane?
As the volume of water increases on the road, the water pressure in front of the tire pushes the water beneath it. A thin film of water is now between the tire and the road. If the water is mixed with oil residue on the road, the surface becomes even slicker. The loss of traction makes it difficult for drivers to steer, brake, and control speed.
As you might imagine, your tires approach and respond to water differently. Sometimes only one tire is involved. Other times, all four tires hydroplane. It’s a good idea to avoid standing water on the road unless doing so requires you to veer outside your lane. It’s also important to make sure that your tire treads are in good condition and not under-inflated.
What Happens If A Car Hits Me While Hydroplaning?
Initially, you might believe that no one can be held accountable if you were injured in an accident with a hydroplaning car. After all, no one can control the weather. However, that’s not true in Hawaii.
Hawaii is a no-fault state for auto insurance. If you’re injured in a collision, you will first need to pursue compensation for your losses through your own auto insurance company.
You may also have a claim against the driver that hit you. If you can prove that the driver was negligent in some way — by driving too fast for the conditions or failing to properly maintain the vehicle’s tires —you may be able to sue for compensation if your injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold. A lawyer can determine whether your case qualifies for this type of lawsuit.
Even if you are partially at fault for a car accident in Hawaii, you can still collect compensation as long as you are not more at fault than the other party.
Tips to Avoid Hydroplaning
Hawaii’s rainy season creates more chances for water to collect on roadways, setting the stage for hydroplaning. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid this treacherous situation:
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated and not overly worn.
- Slow down when roads are wet. You can hydroplane in less than an inch of water.
- Stay away from puddles and standing water.
- Avoid driving in outer lanes where water accumulates.
- Drive in the tire tracks left by cars in front of you.
- Drive in a lower gear and don’t use cruise control.
- Avoid applying brakes hard.
- Don’t make sharp or quick turns.
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