What is aquaplaning, and why it’s so RISKY especially during the monsoons

Rainy season makes the roads dangerous due to many reasons. While the slippery roads make driving on roads extremely dangerous, there is something even more dangerous and it remains hidden from the plain sight. Most of us have not heard about the term “Aquaplaning” or “Hydro-planing” in India. It is a phenomenon that happens due to the stagnant water on the road and it can lead to most extreme accidents. We have a video here that shows how aquaplaning can throw your car off the road, right into oncoming traffic.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class aquaplaning accident

This video from CCTV footage shows a curved road with heavy rainfall. The cars can be spotted taking high speed turns and there is stagnant water right on the corner. While other cars miss the puddle and pass through safely, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class driver can be seen taking a wide corner and in the process, hitting the puddle. The high-speed car loses grip and slides sideways to hit a pole. The airbags of the car also open due to the high-speed impact.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem like that the driver or any other occupant has been injured in this incident. The driver even comes out of the car to check what happened and then drove the car away from the spot.

How did that happen?

The accident here is caused by aquaplaning, It happens when the tyres cannot dissipate or remove the water from its surface. The water covers the whole tyre and the contact patch between the road and the tyre breaks, causing it to slide uncontrollably. Car drivers just lose control of the vehicle and even the brakes do not work as the car remains above water without any contact with the tarmac.

Now there are a few reasons that can lead to aquaplaning. We have explained each of them below.

Tyre tread depth

Wet tyre

The tread depth of a tyre is very important when it comes to maintaining optimum grip. If the tyre tread depth is not enough or less than 2mm, you should not drive the car during the rainy season. Since the grooves collect the water and throw it away to ensure proper contact surface with the road, the almost-bald tyres cannot do that, which leads to aquaplaning.

Speeding

If you’re driving too fast, the tyre treads would not get enough time to remove water. If you hit a puddle of water at 80 km/h rather than 40 km/h, the chances of you experience aquaplaning increases by multiple folds.

Low air pressure

We may not get to see but tyres go through a lot of bending and flexing while driving. Low air pressure in the tyre means that the tyre will flex inwards allowing water buildup on the surface. This causes aquaplaning too. Overfilled tyres are also a good idea because the contact patch between the tyre and road reduces considerably.

What to do during aquaplaning?

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If anyhow, you experience aquaplaning, you will feel that the steering has become extremely light and you have lost control to change the direction of the vehicle. You may even notice the tachometer reading rising as the wheels become free from any kind of traction.

There is not much that you can do during aquaplaning apart from lifting your foot from the accelerator. Moving the steering around may cause the vehicle to turn over when the tyres make contact with the road surface. It is best to remain calm and wait for the vehicle to slow down and regain control of the steering wheel.

Can you avoid it altogether?

Yes, you can by following simple steps. First of all, SLOW DOWN. This is critical as aquaplaning can be entirely prevented if you cross water at under 40 Kph. If you spot a pool of water on the road, simply slow down as much as possible.

The second most important role in aquaplaning is played by tyres. You have to regularly check the condition of the tyres and measure the depth of the treads. Anything below 4mm is dangerous on the roads. Tyres should be properly inflated with the right amount of pressure recommended by the manufacturer. This ensures that the tyre is not underinflated.

Also, disengage the cruise control system as it will be difficult to modulate the accelerator input according to the road condition. Always drive without engaging cruise control system during rainy drives.