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Riding On Water In Wisconsin: How Do You Deal With Hydroplaning?

In the Wisconsin summer, a bright sunny day can quickly morph into a violent rainstorm. When you are on the road, you will have to adjust your speed and watch out, as water pours down so fast you end up riding among creeks and ponds.

If you happen to cross a large and deep puddle, your car may start hydroplaning. This is a scary experience; the steering wheel jerks and does not respond, you lose control of direction and the car may start skidding and spinning. What happened?

What is Hydoplaning?

Hydroplaning is when the tread cannot channel all the rain water out from under your tires. The patches of tires that are supposed to be resting on the road and give traction are sliding on a layer of water instead.

Hydroplaning can lead to serious crashes and depends on a number of parameters:

  • Water depth: a deep puddle rather than a thin film of water will cause hydroplaning.
  • Speed: entering a puddle at high speed prevents the vehicle from resting firmly on the pavement.
  • The vehicle's weight: light vehicles tend to slide more.
  • Tire width: wider tires have a larger contact surface and better grip.
  • Tread depth: deeper treads allow more water to be evacuated.


What should you do if your car starts hydroplaning?

  • Reduce your speed by taking your foot off the gas pedal. Do not use the brakes unless you have anti-lock brakes (ABS). Even then, use the brakes gently.
  • Use the steering wheel to correct the car's path and bring it in the direction you want (away from the water). Do not make sudden movements but hold the wheel firmly.


When you have reached safer ground, provided you haven't hit anything in the process, test your brakes a few times to make sure they haven't been flooded and respond immediately.

How can you prevent hydroplaning?

  • Check your tires and replace them regularly.
  • Watch the road in front of you and the spray kicked up by cars ahead.
    • If it suddenly increases, slow down.
  • Watch the road surface.
    • If it is irregular and has sunken areas where water accumulates, drive in another lane or slow down.
    • Avoid the lanes close to clogged drainage.


Hupy and Abraham have offices throughout Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, Green Bay, Wausau), Iowa (Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Quad Cities in Iowa), and Illinois (Gurnee, Rockford, Bloomington). If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle crash, contact Hupy and Abraham for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation today toll-free at 800-800-5678 or send us an e-mail with your questions.