What to do if you hydroplane

What to do if you hydroplane
What to do if you hydroplane
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:49 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - While the investigation is still early into the pileup that claimed the lives of 10 people, 9 of which were children, in Butler County, investigators believe hydroplaning played a major role in the tragedy.

Hydroplaning was also blamed for a crash over that weekend that involved a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy.

Local experts say Alabama is near the top for vehicular injuries and fatalities in the country, and the number one cause of death in people ages five to 24 is car accidents.

And unfortunately, hydroplaning is a serious threat when it rains.

It only takes a small amount of rain to left a car off the road.

“It only takes a tenth of an inch of water on the roadway for a 10 yards distance at 50 miles per hour,” Dr. Benjamin McManus UAB T.R.I.P Researcher said.

Dr. Benjamin McManus with UAB said your car is most likely to hydroplane under these circumstances, but, the threat of hydroplaning actually begins at 35-miles per hour.

“Hydroplaning specifically is when the tires lose contact with the surface of the roadway,” McManus said.

The car essentially ski’s on the liquid and loses control.

McManus said the first 10-20 minutes of rain presents the greatest hazard because debris on the road, like oil, floats to the top making them even slicker.

McManus spoke to WBRC from the Translational Research for Injury Prevention, or TRIP Lab at UAB.

They study cognitive driving using a  simulator in different conditions like wet roads.

“The important thing is don’t make any sudden movements. We don’t want to suddenly hit the brakes. We don’t want to suddenly hit the accelerator. We definitely don’t want to jerk the steering wheel,” McManus explained.

If your car begins to fishtail stay calm.

“If the tail of the car heads to the right, you want to turn the steering wheel and turn in the same direction. Turn to the right and steer into the skid,” McManus said.

According to McManus, the type of vehicle you drive does not matter.

You can buy tires that have better tread in the rain, but McManus said your best bet is to slow down and pay careful attention to the road.

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