Wet road dangers

BY RORY DALEY Observer writer

Friday, October 26, 2012    

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ONE of the hidden dangers of a wet road is hydroplaning.

Simply put, it is when a thin layer of water builds up between the tyre and the road surface which causes the wheels to lose traction.

What makes it dangerous is the driver does not know it is happening. It usually occurs when braking or manoeuvring the car on a wet surface. At this point, the vehicle begins to skid or spin.

"It's a matter of speed versus displacement," said Christopher McFarlane, chief instructor at the Corporate Area-based Jamspeed Performance Driving School.

Tyres are designed to push water away using the tread pattern moulded into its exterior.

Once hydroplaning [or aquaplaning] is felt the natural reaction is to hit the brakes. According to McFarlane, that is the wrong thing to do.

"First off, let me say the best preventative measure is to slow down during poor weather conditions. More experienced drivers will notice aquaplaning as the car will feel light or pull unexpectedly, but once it starts the last thing you should do is slam on the brakes."

McFarlane advises drivers to ease off the accelerator and let the natural weight of the vehicle bring it back under control.

"In rare cases, you might have to accelerate to force the wheels to spin faster and push as much water as possible from under the tyres.

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