Hydroplaning is a potential danger that you can encounter when driving on wet roads. While you can minimize the chance of hydroplaning, you can’t always control it. Proper car insurance will help you cover some of the costs associated with accidents resulting from hydroplaning. American Auto Insurance (AAI) is the cheapest and most reliable insurance provider in the Chicago area, offering a variety of plans, including SR-22 insurance coverage certificates and cheap full coverage auto insurance.

What Is Hydroplaning?

A wet, black asphalt road in Illinois where cars will hydroplane.

Black asphalt road by Wes Hicks is licensed with Unsplash License 

Hydroplaning occurs when your tires slide over water and oil on the road, losing contact with the pavement. In most cases, water and other liquids will run through the tread of your tires, so the tire itself still sits on the road. However, if the water is too deep or your tire tread is too shallow, you may find your vehicle sliding out of control over the slick surface of the liquid. 

When your tires lose all contact with the road, you have no traction with which to control your vehicle. If you don’t know how to deal with hydroplaning, you may panic in this situation, as the car will appear to be completely uncontrollable. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent hydroplaning and recover from it.

What To Do if You’re Hydroplaning

It’s easy to recognize hydroplaning because your vehicle will no longer respond to the movement of the steering wheel. You’ll likely feel like you’re gliding along on the water’s surface, more like a boat than a motor vehicle. Though hydroplaning is an intense experience, it doesn’t usually last long. As soon as you notice that you’re hydroplaning, you should:

    1. Take your foot off the gas: Allow the vehicle to slow down naturally, and don’t hit the brakes, as this can accelerate your spin. It’s better to glide smoothly with no added momentum and come to a natural stop.

    1. Position your steering wheel to follow the hydroplane: Your vehicle won’t respond to the movement of the steering wheel while you’re hydroplaning, but you will jolt back into control when your tires reconnect with the ground. Aligning the steering wheel with the movement of the vehicle will help you restore control more quickly when you regain your traction.

    1. Pull over when you can: While hydroplaning, there’s little you can do besides wait for the situation to pass. However, you may want to pull over once the incident is over. This will give you a chance to calm down and reassess the situation. Are you in an area where more severe hydroplaning is likely if you continue? Waiting for the weather to clear may be the best course of action. If you only encountered a minor instance of hydroplaning, you may feel it’s appropriate to continue driving.

    1. Contact your insurance company: If you were in any kind of collision while hydroplaning, you should contact your insurance company immediately to discuss the claim.

How Insurance Helps With Hydroplaning Issues

If you slide into a guardrail, fence, or ditch while hydroplaning, this is considered a single-car accident. Collision insurance coverage should help pay for damages associated with this type of accident. You’ll need to pay your deductible before the insurance kicks in. If you’re injured in the accident, medical payment coverage may help pay for any associated medical costs. 

In some instances, you can find another party liable for the expenses and damages associated with hydroplaning. If the hydroplaning occurs as the result of faulty vehicle equipment, the manufacturer may be at fault. If your vehicle hydroplanes due to poor road maintenance, you can file a claim against your city or town.

Speak with your insurance agent as soon as possible if your vehicle is damaged or you’re physically harmed in a hydroplaning incident. Your insurance provider can help you review your plan and determine how much coverage you have for the accident.

How To Prevent Hydroplaning

While hydroplaning isn’t always avoidable, there are many things you can do to decrease the chance of hydroplaning. Your tires play a big role in how your vehicle handles water on the road. Good tires can displace as much as 4 gallons of water per second. Unless you’re in extreme storm or flood conditions, this should be adequate to keep you in contact with the road. You can make sure your tires are up to the job of tackling wet roads by:

    • Checking your tire pressure: If your tires are under or overinflated, they won’t maintain proper contact with the road. This increases the chance of hydroplaning. Check your tire pressure regularly, especially when outdoor temperatures are fluctuating. Adjust as needed to keep your tires properly inflated. Not only does this protect against hydroplaning, but it also improves your fuel efficiency and extends the life of your tires.

    • Checking your tire tread: You should replace your tires any time they have a 2/32-inch tread or less. If you place a penny in the tire tread, you should not be able to see the top of Lincoln’s head. Most tires also have wear bars that let you know when the tread is too low. If the wear bars are exposed, you need new tires.

    • Turning off cruise control: If you’re driving in wet conditions, you should always maintain independent control of the vehicle, as cruise control doesn’t respond appropriately to hydroplaning. Switching out of cruise control can cost you precious seconds when you’re losing control of your vehicle.

    • Slowing down: High speeds make hydroplaning worse. Drive slower in extremely wet road conditions to decrease the chance of hydroplaning.

Insure Your Vehicle Against Hydroplaning

If you want to make sure you have solid insurance coverage for hydroplaning incidents, contact AAI today. We help Illinoisians navigate all parts of the auto insurance process, including selecting a plan and understanding the finer points of car coverage. Call us now to learn more about how you can stay covered if you find your vehicle hydroplaning.


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