Aquaplaning is where the vehicle's four wheels lose all traction by being lifted off the road surface and on to a cushion of water. The vehicle behaves as though it has a mind of its own with the driver feeling as if the vehicle has suddenly become a hovercraft. This can be a terrifying experience that can result in your rental car being damaged, or worse yourself being insured.
The Science Behine Aquaplaning
Aquaplaning occurs when the water in front of your tyres builds up too quickly, thus disenabling your tyres from being able to make contact with the road in front of them. Usually, if your tyres come into contact with surface water, the tyres will compress some of the water to the sides and will force the remaining water through the tyres to the rear of the vehicle. However, driving in particularly wet conditions or with insufficient tread can have an effect on the car's ability to do this effectively.
Typically on a family sized car, a patch of rubber no bigger than the size of an average man's shoe is the only contact between the car and the road surface. In moderate rainfall on a smooth road at a speed of 60mph, each tyre has to displace about a gallon of water every second. And as each gripping element is only in contact with the road for 1/150th of a second, you can quickly begin to understand why the risk of aquaplaning is so high.
How To Avoid Aquaplaning
- SPEED - The faster you travel in wet conditions, the less grip your tyres will have - although an obvious statement, still one which too many people seem to ignore. By reducing your speed by 20% when travelling in the wet you can reduce your chances of aquaplaning by up to 80%...a no brainer!
- TYRE CONDITION - Damaged or worn tyres are unable to spread water as efficiently as new tyres which will increase your chances of aquaplaning. Check your tyres regularly for damage or signs of wear and make sure they are inflated to the recommended amount (such information can be found in the User Manual which will be supplied with the hire vehicle).
- UNEVEN/POOR ROAD SURFACES - Obviously, the greater the rainfall the more likely the chances of waterlogging, so extra care should be taken if driving on uneven surfaces as water can gather easily in dips/cavities.
- LARGE VEHCILES - If you find yourself driving behind a vehicle with large wheels be sure to keep your distance as more water may be throwm from their tyres compared with a normal sized vehicle.
What To Do If Your Hire Vehicle Aquaplanes
Finesse not brute strength is called for if you find youself aquaplaning as sudden jerky movements and aggressive steering can cause the car to react violently and potentially steer off course. 'Feeling' the path that the car wants to take and knowing when to apply the accelerator is key when negotiating an aquaplane. Your natural reaction may be to brake or steer towards safety, however experts strongly advise against doing this as trying to correct or counter the car's chosen direction can have the opposite effect.
Follow these easy steps and avoid having an aquaplaning related accident:
- Reduce your speed when driving in wet conditions
- Always ensure your tyres are in good condition and properly inflated
- If you find yourself aquaplaning
- Keep your cool!
- Ease your foot off the accelerator and allow the car to find its preferred direction of travel
- Once you feel traction returning to your wheels, apply the accelerator smoothly
- Gently steer the car away from the waterlogged area and continue in a straight line until clear of the ford.
We hope you never need to use your iCarhireinsurance excess policy to claim against an aquaplaning related accident, however be safe in the knowledge that you can protect yourself financially for as little as £2.99 should such an incident occur.