While driving in the rain brings an added dimension of concentration, skill and depending on your wipers to keep the windscreen clear so that you can see the road properly, driving on flooded roads is another matter altogether. If a lot of surface water has accumulated on the road, you need to take extra care not to drive into flooded parts and risk losing control of your car because of aquaplaning.
Aquaplaning, also known as hydroplaning, occurs when a car’s tyres enter surface water of such a depth that they can no longer grip the road. This loss of contact between tyre and road can compromise the control of your vehicle, increasing the risk of an accident.
Aside from the clear presence of surface water on the road, what other factors could hint at aquaplaning? Your steering could become notably lighter or the engine may become discernibly louder than normal. Also, if you feel the car drifting from side to side at the back, this could also be a warning sign of aquaplaning.
If you think that your car is aquaplaning, resist the temptation to slam on the brakes. Press them gently and slowly come off the accelerator. Grip the steering wheel firmly and move it in the direction of the road but don’t jerk it too much or the car could spin. Although many modern cars are fitted with ABS, the best way to brake safely in wet conditions is through cadence braking, which is a technique of pumping the car’s brake pedal, giving you more control and allowing the car to steer and brake in slippery conditions.
The best way to avoid aquaplaning is to adapt your speed to the road conditions and, if possible, avoid flooded roads completely. If you have no other option but to drive on a wet road, try to follow existing tyre tracks as water will have been displaced from other vehicles.
First Aid Wheels has created this infographic which contains some very important advice for dealing with aquaplaning situations and may help you steer out of trouble.