Drive smart through Spring rain


Spring showers give the landscape a much needed drenching, but they can also bring treacherous road conditions. May is Colorado’s rainiest month, so it’s worth being especially cautious about hydroplaning this month.

Hydroplaning happens when water on the road accumulates in front of your tires faster than your vehicle can push the water out of its way. The water pressure can cause your car to slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. Hydroplaning typically happens at speeds greater than 40 miles per hour, and when it does occur you can completely lose control of your car. Three factors cause the “perfect storm “ of hydroplaning: vehicle speed, tire tread depth, and water depth. The deeper the water, the more chance you will hydroplane, although sometimes even a scant amount of water can cause you to lose traction.

One of the best ways to minimize the risk of hydroplaning is to replace your tires when they get worn, as having a good tread helps you navigate water more effectively. Also, keeping your tire pressure at the required amount is an all around best practice for dealing with unstable surfaces.

Sometimes it’s hard to know that you are hydroplaning. Pay attention if the rear of your car starts acting a little loosey-goosey, as if you were being buffeted by high winds. The steering may feel easier than normal, too, giving you subtle clues that you are not full contact with the road.

If you are waterborne, remember these two golden rules: Do not brake or turn. Ease off the gas until your car slows down, or if necessary, pump the brakes. Slowly you should be able to regain control. Being more conscious of hydroplaning will make you less likely to slip into a slide. So next time it rains, be thankful for the much needed moisture, but proceed with caution.