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Hydroplaning: how to avoid it amid wet weather, slick roads

As most of Mid-Missouri is expecting thunderstorms in the coming days, the rain will likely cause some slick roadways, increasing the chance of hydroplaning.

MoDOT Central District Maintenance engineer Randy Aulbur told ABC 17 News hydroplaning is more of an issue when a motorist is traveling at speeds of 45 mph or higher. Sgt. Scott White with the Missouri State Highway Patrol had similar remarks, noting that many crashes are caused by people simply driving too fast.

“One of the leading causes of crashes in Missouri is people driving too fast for the conditions and that means when that inclement weather comes in people just don’t adjust the way they drive and that’s when we see the cars hydroplaning, ending up in the median and the ditches,” White said.

While speed plays an important role, Aulbur said it’s not the only factor. In fact, different types of pavement have different effects. For example, some pavement mixtures allow the rain to travel through while others are dense, so the water sheds from the top (if you’re driving behind a car that is spraying a lot of water, that likely means you’re driving on a dense roadway).

“Where one of those mixes works really well for rain events, it might not work so well for a winter event,” Aulbur said.

While a motorist can’t control the type of pavement, there are a few important factors drivers can impact. Those include “the type of tires you have on your automobile, the tread depth on those tires, the fact that they’re properly inflated,” Aulbur said.

Sgt. Scott White said a motorist’s reaction to hydroplaning is equally as important as the prevention techniques.

“When it comes to hydroplaning, recovery is very important. It’s our natural inclination to go for that brake pedal-it’s kind of our safety button. You want to stay away from that, you have to fight that urge to actually stomp on the brake. Just fight that urge and steer into the slide,” White said.

According to crash data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, of the nearly 3,000 crashes last year in Boone County, rain played a factor in over 200.

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