Drivin' in the Rain: A Video Guide for How to Handle Hydroplaning

Ahhh, it’s just a little rain, right?

Well, according to the Federal Highway Administration, wet pavement is a factor in some three-quarters of weather-related crashes, and rain causes about half — accounting for between 10 and 20 percent of all highway accidents annually, including thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries.

Related: Video: What to Do If Caught in a Flood

One of the greatest dangers when it comes to rain on the road, of course, is hydroplaning — when your tires lose contact with the pavement due to water on the roadway, often causing a loss of vehicle control.

It can take just a fraction of inch of water and a speed of around 35 mph to hydroplane, so knowing what to do if it happens — before it happens — is vital to keeping your wits about you.

Once your car starts to hydroplane, you may wind up in a skid, which could put you off the road or in the path of another car.

To break free of the skid, AAA recommends:

1. Keeping your eyes in the direction you wish to travel: straight down the road.

2. Easing off the gas and steering in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

3. Resisting the natural urge to slam on the brakes or oversteer, as this will only worsen your car’s balance and make things worse.

All that said, it’s best to avoid trouble in the first place by being prepared for wet weather. Here’s how:

  • Regularly replace your windshield-wiper inserts to ensure a clear, streak-free view.
  • Be sure your car’s headlights, taillights and brakelights are functioning, and keep your headlights on when you drive.
  • Check your tire tread depth monthly and keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer-recommended pressure.
  • Refrain from using cruise control in wet conditions, as it’ll prevent you from being able to ease off the accelerator amid loss of traction.
  • Adjust for conditions by slowing down, and leaving a wider gap between you and the car ahead.
  • And if the rain comes down so hard you have trouble seeing the edges of the road or the cars around you, turn on your emergency flashers, pull as far off the roadway as you can and wait for the worst of it to pass.

You can’t be too prepared!’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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