We have teamed up with the experts from mytyres.co.uk to explain what is aquaplaning and how to stay safe while driving in the rain
One minute the sun is shining, the other dark clouds are gathering and it’s raining heavily – every British driver is all too familiar with these common weather surprises. Since on average it rains one in three days in the UK*, British motorists are at particularly high risk of experiencing a dangerous phenomenon called aquaplaning. The experts from an online tyre store mytyres.co.uk explain what it is and how to stay safe while driving in the rain.
1. What is aquaplaning?
Aquaplaning stands for a sudden loss of grip while driving on a wet surface. It occurs when a “wedge” of water forms between the tyre and the road surface; the tyre forms a quasi-bow-wave which cannot be drained fast enough. In extreme cases, the tyre can completely lose contact with the road. When it happens, no steering and braking forces can be transmitted and the vehicle is no longer maneuverable.
2. Which factors influence aquaplaning?
For one thing, it is water depth. The higher the water level on the road, the lower the so-called limit speed at which tyres still have grip and the car is still maneuverable . Also, the condition of the road plays a role: during rainfalls hidden dangers lurk in depressions of the road and in wheel-ruts, but also on wide streets, because that’s where the water takes longer to run off.
3. How to drive a car in the rain to avoid aquaplaning?
An obvious, yet extremely important tip here is to always adjust the driving style to the weather and road conditions. First of all, drivers should remember to take the foot off the gas and keep calm. They should also accelerate and break gently and avoid any rapid movements with a steering wheel. Moreover, at the speed of 60 mph a tyre has to drain approximately 28 liters of water per second. It’s therefore recommendable to ease the tyres’ job a bit and take wheel-ruts on the road in between the car’s wheels while driving in the rain.
4. What else can drivers do to stay safe on the road?
One of the key factors in avoiding aquaplaning are functional tyres with a good grip. Maintenance of the tyres requires a correctly inflated tyre pressure. Information about the recommended tyre pressure for your car can be found in the car’s handbook, on the car’s door pillar or on the inside of the fuel filler cap. With underinflated tyres the probability to float away is usually higher. Also, tyre experts from mytyres.co.uk suggest a safe tread depth of at least 3 or 4 millimeters; the higher the profile depth, the better the grip, especially when it rains. Therefore, motorists should check tyre tread regularly and not to prolong tyre replacement until the legal minimum of 1,6 mm tread depth is reached – in this case less is not more .
5. What to do when the car starts to aquaplane?
You should keep a cool head and follow a simple instruction: do not break nor accelerate suddenly. Also, do not make any hectic steering movements. This might make the situation even worse. Instead, reduce your speed, press the clutch and hold the steering wheel firmly in the direction you are traveling until you feel contact with the road again.
More on the subject of aquaplaning together with a number of useful driving tips can be found at www.mytyres.co.uk. You can also order new tyres there if your old ones are worn and need replacing.
7th August, 2015