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Definition - What does hydroplaning mean?

Hydroplaning refers to a vehicle skidding or sliding across wet surfaces, and is often attributed to meteorological conditions (i.e., rain, snow), where tires lack an equal distribution of water dispersal in contact with the road, consequently diminishing traction. The tread-to-ground ratio is a vital aspect of tires gripping the road; however, if the water pressure exceeds the tread depth between the tires, this phenomenon decreases the inertia (friction) necessary to prevent hydroplaning.

SureHire explains hydroplaning

When driving, a safe stopping distance represents the cumulative time differential between the relative rate of speed of a vehicle in tandem with the reaction distance, or discretionary estimate, to apply the brakes before a complete stop. Moreover, wet road surfaces are hazardous for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators, who require ample stopping distance.

The initial ten minutes of drizzle conditions are often treacherous, as precipitation combined with residual oil deposits on road pavements increase the likelihood of hydroplaning, leading to motor vehicle accidents. CMV tractor units carrying bulk freight are vulnerable to hydroplaning along slick road pavements, provided their braking system can sustain the traction force necessary to clear the stopping distance given their mass volume capacity. Regular tire inspections can determine if the tread depth is on par with safety standards to help deflect excess water from under the tires, enhancing sufficient traction to reduce hydroplaning accidents.

Employers should ensure their trucking fleet outfit conforms to regulated guidelines where empty tractor-trailers and cargo trailers are variables that reflect a safe stopping distance between destinations, independent of hydroplaning accidents that can incur liabilities.

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