CAUTION – WET ROAD AHEAD! The Risk of Hydroplaning

With winter upon us and some particularly wet conditions of late, it is useful to reconsider our driving habits over the coming months.  Wet road conditions can result in more instances of aquaplaning or hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning occurs when a car’s tyre separates from the road surface thus causing a temporary loss of control.  It occurs when a film of water is present on the road surface.  It most often occurs during or after a heavy rain storm or downpour, when a large amount of water is present on the road surface.  The most dangerous sections of road are those where water pools.  When the depth of the water exceeds 1.5mm, which exceeds the minimum tyre tread depth, then the conditions are right for a vehicle to hydroplane.

Hydroplaning can involve either a complete or partial separation of the tyre from the road surface.  Complete hydroplaning usually results in a loss of control.  Partialhydroplaning usually results in there being reduced friction.  In circumstances involving reduced friction a driver often can maintain reasonable control of a vehicle at a constant speed but this can quickly change if high demands are placed on the vehicle, eg., during steering or turning, acceleration or braking.

Whilst hydroplaning typically occurs at higher speeds (above 75 – 80km/hour), there are a range of variables which can play a role including the weight of the particular vehicle.

The risks of hydroplaning were evident in an episode of TopGear from March 2014.  The TopGear fellows are the ultimate car enthusiasts and very, very experienced drivers.  Even so, they proved that anyone can encounter difficulties in certain conditions.  In the March episode Jeremy Clarkson had a frightening encounter when the BMW he was driving hydroplaned.  Whilst travelling on a straight and level, albeit wet, airstrip at 120mph the car suddenly began to hydroplane before rotating and finally coming to a stop after 15 seconds and travelling a further 400m on from the point of the initial loss of traction.

This should serve as a useful reminder to us all of the potential dangers of hydroplaning and the increased risks on the road in wet conditions.

Some of the facts and figures referred to in this article are courtesy of Jamieson Foley, Consulting Engineers –

For more information on how Burt & Davies can help you, contact either Peter Burt or Clara Davies, specialist Car Accident Lawyers & Car Accident Compensation Lawyers, Level 11, 451 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. They are both Accredited Personal Injury Lawyers who practice exclusively in Transport Accident Compensation & TAC claims.
Telephone (03) 9605 3111 or freecall 1800 109 940
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