Sunday, February 7, 2016

Q&A: How to prevent hydroplaning

A reader asks why they have hydroplaned twice recently.
A reader asks why they have hydroplaned twice recently. iStockphoto

Q: I’ve hydroplaned twice recently. What am I doing wrong?

A: That unmistakable feeling of a too-light steering wheel – like when you’re driving on sheer ice ¬– signals that you’re traveling on a film of water. There are three major contributors.

1. You’re driving too fast. Defensive driving experts say that when you’re on wet roads, you should reduce your speed to about two-thirds of normal.

2. Your tires stink. Worn tires without sufficient tread increase hydroplaning risk.

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  • 3. The rain is unusually hard and water buildup is unusually deep (or it’s raining for the first time in a long time, and oil and other road muck is increasing the slippery quotient). When these conditions exist, slow down even more.

    Reader has a request: “Your column on rule breakers was right on target. There’s another issue: drivers that … bully other drivers, the ones who won’t let you merge; drivers who see a lane closure ahead and race forward in that very lane and force their most privileged selves into the very beginning of the merge; drivers who aggressively tailgate in residential neighborhoods when you’re going the speed limit but they want to go faster and can’t because of oncoming traffic or other reasons. We have bully laws for schools and work, but we’ve not addressed the issue of bully drivers. In fact, we who aren’t bullies are so unnerved we even make sure to not react in the smallest way to the bullying lest we (sadly) be at the wrong end of a gun or other violence! It would be great to start talking about better etiquette on the roads with simple courtesy to one another. Can we get the discussion started with you? It would be a great service.”

    Consider the discussion started. Those of you with ideas or knowledge of local laws or approaches that are working, please get in touch.

    All movements have to start somewhere, and maybe this beginning is with all of us promising to quit any rudeness/bullying we ourselves are guilty of and, just as important, speaking up when we’re passengers in cars with drivers who do unacceptable things.

    I’m reminded of Paulo Coelho’s words: “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

    Let’s get this started.

    © CTW Features

    What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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