How Does Hydroplaning Occur?
Hydroplaning happens when there is more water on the road than the tire can evacuate from where the tread rubber meets the road. Tires on a vehicle driven on a wet road, can build up water at the leading edge of the tire, pushing water under the tire. If the tire tread can’t efficiently evacuate the water away, it will be forced between the tire and road, and may cause hydroplaning.
Tires are designed with grooves and sipes that assist in channeling water away from the contact patch; that is, the point where the tire meets the road. However, higher vehicle speeds, heavy rain, and advanced tire wear can all increase the likelihood of hydroplaning.
When Does Hydroplaning Happen?
Hydroplaning most often happens during – and right after – heavy rains, when there are large puddles and other pools of water on the road surface. Though not due to hydroplaning, you should be aware that after a period of dry weather, even a light rain has the potential to affect wet traction. The various oils on the asphalt pavement may float on the wet road surface and may lead to reduced wet grip.
Higher speeds in wet weather makes hydroplaning more likely. As speed increases, tires are less capable of evacuating the water from the contact patch with the road. If it’s wet, slow down to help maintain proper control of your vehicle.