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Published April 23, 2021

Hydroplaning accidents should be top of mind for Ottawa drivers this spring

Springtime is rainy season for Ottawa and its surrounding communities. As such, local drivers should be well aware of the potential dangers of hydroplaning accidents.

Heavy rainfall poses a unique problem for drivers as oil and dust can mix with rain and create dangerous driving conditions. Rain can reduce both the visibility of drivers along with the traction of tires. Add in some high speeds and suddenly, Ottawa roads become a recipe for disaster. Learn about the dangers of hydroplaning accidents and what you can do to prevent deadly collisions ahead of time.

Hydroplaning accidents: The fundamentals

Hydroplaning is typically caused by the mixing of dirt and oil on roads after rainfall. This build-up can ride along on top of tires, causing cars to lose their traction and create a spinning or sliding motion. This of course can cause drivers to slide into traffic or other objects, presenting an incredible danger to themselves and those around them. Hydroplaning can even be experienced after light spring rainfall too, so please remain cautious under any weather condition.

Those who drive with tires that are heavily worn are even more susceptible to hydroplaning. Further, the higher the speed, the more likely a driver is to hydroplane through puddles that might appear harmless but could cause a deadly accident. Ottawans are encouraged to drive carefully during or after rainfall, as regular tire maintenance and a little extra caution on roads can be the difference between life and death.  

Hydroplaning accident and collision statistics

Driving safety remains a paramount concern for all Canadians. According to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, there are roughly 160,000 car accidents every year, with many of them resulting in serious injury or death. Close to 3,000 people die per year in Canada as a result of an auto collision. Many of these accidents can be prevented with some care and diligence on behalf of drivers.

Remember, hydroplaning accidents can result in serious death or injury with life-changing consequences. Use extra care when driving in wet or rainy weather and help keep you and your family safe when using Ottawa roads.

Simple precautions drivers can take to prevent hydroplaning accidents

The next time you or a loved one drive during or after rainfall, consider utilizing some of these simple tips to help keep Ottawa roads safe.

Routine tire maintenance

Make the effort to ensure that your tires are properly inflated and maintained. Regular checks of tread thickness and tire rotations can improve traction and help manage possible hydroplaning. Tires that are heavily worn can result in serious hydroplaning accidents. Consider replacing old tires with ones that have increased treads.

Consider different routes

Drivers in Ottawa should attempt to avoid large puddles or water accumulation while driving. Consider taking different routes that are less susceptible to water accumulation. Further, consider not driving at all during or after heavy rainfall and waiting for more favourable driving conditions.

Slow down and stay aware

Speed is an important factor in hydroplaning incidents. When you spot slick or wet roads, reduce your speed and drive according to weather conditions. Should heavy rain reduce your visibility, pull over into a safe area and wait for weather conditions to improve.

Cruise control is not ideal

Unfortunately, cruise control can cause more harm than good when driving during or after rainfall. Cruise control systems can be confused by the build-up of water and oil against tires, potentially pushing your car to drive faster when it is safe to drive slower. Use extra caution when driving on slick roads and keep cruise control turned off throughout your trip.  

What to do when experiencing a hydroplaning accident

Should you experience hydroplaning, it’s advisable to look for and steer towards open space. Do your best to not panic in the moment, and don’t suddenly jerk the wheel in different directions. Also, know that slamming on the breaks or quickly accelerating can cause your car to slide even more on wet roads. During hydroplaning, attempt to ease off the accelerator and guide your car into a safe and open space.

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