Hydroplaning happens when a car loses contact with the road and begins to ride on the water. The sensation of losing traction can send drivers into a panic, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles advises drivers to remain calm.
When a car begins to hydroplane, drivers will feel a loss in their ability to steer and control the car. It’s crucial for drivers to not try to steer the car in another direction or press the brake — doing so could send the car into a skid.
Instead, the DMV advises drivers to ease off the gas and let the car slow down by itself. Drivers should then feel the control of the car return to the steering wheel as the tires make contact with the road.
There are various factors that can contribute to a car hydroplaning, such as speed, the amount of rain and the tread on the car tires.
“Hydroplaning is more likely if tire pressure is low, or the tread is worn. (The grooves in a tire carry away the water: if the grooves are not deep, they do not work well),” the DMV said.
Cars are at risk of hydroplaning when going 50 mph in heavy rain, but it could even happen at speeds as slow as 30 mph if there is a significant amount of rain on the road.