Spring rainstorms can lead to hydroplaning and crashes

Increased precipitation in the late winter and spring months can bring plants back to life after the colder, dryer winter months. People all too often ignore the dangers of spring weather and focus instead on snowy road conditions. They may treat rising temperatures as a sign that their crash risk is now lower.

Yes, ice, snow and sleet cause a significant percentage of weather-related collisions, but rainy weather can be equally dangerous. Heavy rainstorms can compromise people’s visibility and can also lead to hydroplaning. Many drivers are unaware of how dangerous hydroplaning can be until they suddenly lose control of their vehicle when the roads are wet.

Why does hydroplaning occur?

Hydroplaning is what happens when excessive water on the pavement prevents tires from making contact with the street. Certain factors, like chemical accumulation on the pavement or the condition of the tires on the vehicle, could increase the likelihood of hydroplaning occurring.

Drivers who do not properly maintain their vehicles or change their driving habits for wet road conditions are far more likely than those who maintain proper tread and air pressure in their tires and who slow down on what surfaces to experience hydroplaning. The weight of the vehicle also matters, with lighter vehicles having a greater risk of losing contact with the road.

The more water there is on the road, the greater the risk of hydroplaning. After just 1/10 of an inch of rain, the possibility of hydroplaning increases. Harder rain and poor drainage can also increase risks. A vehicle’s speed is also a major factor. Generally, hydroplaning is unlikely to occur at speeds until 35 miles per hour (mph).

Weather is not an excuse for unsafe habits

The safety issues created by wet pavement are well-known, so drivers truly cannot wet pavement alone for a collision that occurs. It is incumbent upon everyone operating a motor vehicle in any kind of weather to adjust their practice given the current road conditions. Drivers can reduce their risks by slowing down, taking different routes and increasing their stopping distance, which are all smart moves when road surfaces are wet.