Most of us think of the summer as a welcome break from poor road conditions, especially here in Alberta. However, those of us who have lived here a while also know not to let our guard down. When it rains, it pours, and if the water has nowhere to go the roads can become washed out very quickly – even in the city.
Puddles And Hydroplaning
Almost all of us have driven through the rain. A light sprinkle can be refreshing, but anything more than a drizzle can create puddles on the road which can lead to hydroplaning. Tire treads are designed to scatter water so that the tire’s surface can come into contact with the road surface. When we encounter a deep puddle, our tire treads may not be able to scatter enough water, which means a layer of water remains between the tire and the road. “Hydroplaning” is when our tires no longer come into contact with the road, leading to a loss of traction.
The best way to avoid hydroplaning is to slow down. Hydroplaning is much more likely to occur at higher speeds. Keeping your tires and wheels well maintained, with proper balancing and regular rotations, will also help prevent hydroplaning. And of course – do not use cruise control in the rain!
Flash Floods And Deep Water
Flash floods are most common in the spring, summer and fall because of heavy rain or a sudden release of water by a dam or ice jam. If you notice water really starting to pool on the roadway, the number one piece of advice is to find another route! Driving in a flooded area is never advisable.
However, if the flood happens suddenly or you have no other way around it, you may be forced to drive through some deeper-than-usual water. In these situations, keep in mind that you can never be sure of the road’s condition, depth of the water, or any debris that may be hiding at the bottom of a deep puddle. Driving through deep water is risky, and even driving through six inches of water can cause your engine to stall. Not to scare you, but you may be surprised to learn how easily a vehicle can float!
When you must drive through deep water in an emergency situation, avoid hydroplaning by slowing down as much as you can before entering. This also will help to avoid creating large splashes that can hit pedestrians or other cars. If other vehicles are nearby, try to stay back and watch them go through the water first. This can give you some idea of the road conditions beneath the water and the true depth of the water. After you exit the flooded area, help your brakes dry by braking lightly while driving slowly. Don’t rush out of the puddle in a hurry!
The best advice is to slow down in any wet weather and check that you are not driving distracted. Staying alert and aware of the “big picture” surrounding you is extremely important in any adverse weather conditions. Find an alternate route or pull over somewhere safe if you see the road beginning to flood. If you’re feeling unsure of how to drive in these conditions, or if you feel that you need to work on Safer Driving Habits, check out our list of driver training courses in Calgary or contact us today.