Rain Rain Go Away?I Need to Drive Today
It has only been a day or so, but it feel like it has been raining here since God was a child. I have a few friends who will be out driving in it, and I was reminded of a driving tip I wanted to share. It's about hydroplaning.
The driver, you know, the one daydreaming, or half asleep, putting on makeup, and is listening to the rain drops on the roof of the car, or engrossed in NPR, will be taken by surprise when the car suddenly picks up speed as it enters into the hydroplane. Yes that's right. It goes faster. And rather fast…um…I mean rather suddenly.
When water collects on roadways during a downpour, and you come barreling down the highway with limited visibility (hopefully your lights are on), in order for the tires of your vehicle to remain in contact with the surface of the road, the tires need to push the water aside in order to plow through. Like parting the red sea. If the threads on the tires are worn, there’s a good possibility the water will stay right where it is. This leaves a thin layer of water between the wheels of your car and the surface of the road. When this occurs, the vehicle will “hydroplane”. Meaning that a flat layer of water is your new road. And that doesn’t leave much traction for the tires. The lack of traction between the tires and the road decreases the amount of drag (or resistance) so the vehicle gains forward momentum.
Here’s how that plays out. You’re bee bopping’ down the road in the rain and hating your boss for making you drive into the office when you could have easily worked from home, and your tires loose contact with the road surface and you and your trusty vehicle go gliding across a sheet of water like an olympic figure skater. If you’re lucky, the vehicle will continue moving in the same direction and with the front of the vehicle leading the way. If you’re not so lucky, the back of your car will be leading the way, then the front, then the back, then the front, then…
If this ever happens to you, NEVER, NEVER, step on the brakes. Why? Because stepping on the brakes will prevent the tires from rolling. If the tires aren’t rolling, but the vehicle is still moving, then you are skidding. And that’s almost like hydroplaning. Except with skidding, you have more friction. With friction, you have more traction. With traction, you have control. With hydroplaning, you have a big hunk of out of control useless mechanical energy parting the waters as it spins along the interstate at high speed. With you in it. Getting dizzy.
What you should do is remove your feet from the gas and the brake pedals. Hold the steering wheel firmly as your vehicle initially picks up speed. Your job at this point is to try and keep the vehicle heading in the same direction as before the hydroplaning began. You do this by turning the wheel ONLY if the car begins to turn first. You want to turn the wheel in the direction the back of the vehicle is moving. Basically, that translates into turning the wheel in the opposite direction of which the car wants to spin. Turn the wheel just enough to compensate for the vehicle wanting to spin/turn.
As the vehicle turns to the left, you turn the wheel to the right. Then as the vehicle changes direction and begins to turn to the right, you turn the wheel to the left. These movements will be large at first, but with each turn they should become smaller and smaller until the vehicle comes to a complete stop, or until the tires regain traction with the road surface.
If the vehicle stops completely before you regain control, you could be facing any direction. If you haven’t collided with any other vehicles, calmly and quickly restart the engine if it stopped, and continue driving. Don’t sit there waiting for someone to come crashing into you. If you need to do so, drive your car to the side of the road to regain your composure but do it quickly.
If the vehicle doesn’t stop, but instead you gain control, then just keep on going as though nothing happened.
on Apr 12, 2010 | Car Audio & Video