This week we’re showing you that when they say “Caution! Slippery when wet” you really should pay a lot of attention around you. Take a look!
1) Why did the accident happen
The technical term used for what you’ve just seen is aquaplaning.
Aquaplaning is basically the sudden loss of grip when driving on a wet road. There are three important factors that lead to aquaplaning:
The amount of water: the wetter the road is, the slippery it gets. If the road is just a little bit wet, like after a short summer rain, you will have less grip than on dry tarmac but you will not aquaplane. When the level of water starts to rise a little bit and you can see your reflection on the road, things get dangerous. You will lose grip and you will actually glide on the wet road surface like a skater on ice.
The quality of the tires: the circular treads around the tire are designed to evacuate water. The tires will evacuate a bigger quantity of water if the treads are deeper. If you have old worn tires, they will not evacuate water well. This is the reason why slick tires (Formula 1 style) are not road legal.
The speed: the greater the speed, the less time the tire has to evacuate water. If the water builds up very fast between the tire and the road, it creates a film between the tire and the road and the car will slip like being on ice.
2) How the accident could have been prevented
You can prevent this kind of accidents by driving slower on wet roads and making sure that your tires are in top shape.
It is possible to aquaplane in a straight line, all of a sudden, without accelerating or braking. Because of the speed you’re going and the amount of water that’s on the road, the tires simply cannot evacuate all that water in such a short time.
You can also aquaplane when braking, not only when driving constantly in a straight line or in a corner. It’s actually easier to aquaplane when braking and that’s because you’re trying to make the tires stop turning under low grip conditions, when the tire tends to stop turning faster than on dry tarmac. The water builds up between the tire and the road because if the tire doesn’t turn, it doesn’t evacuate water.
You can, thus, prevent aquaplaning also by using your engine brake at medium and high speeds.
3) How to react if the accident happens
If you aquaplane and lose control of the car, you will be disorientated because usually, aquaplaning ends up spinning the car around.
Try to steer away from incoming traffic. If you see a plane field try to aim for it. The higher friction will help stop the car.
Besides these little pieces of advice, if you aquaplane, the bigger the speed, the less chances you have to regain control of the car.