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KSMU Examines Hydroplaning On The Highway


Avoiding the high water that comes to low water crossings after heavy rains can save your life. It's good advice to "Turn Around, Don't Drown." But knowing how to deal with a quarter inch of water on the highway can also save lives. Mike Smith has the story:

As heavy rains fell across the Ozarks early in May, area law enforcement agencies received several calls reporting vehicle accidents, and traffic safety experts say it's a good bet that some of those accidents involved hydroplaning.

Mike Richardson is a former police officer who currently owns and operates "Traffic Safety Awareness", which offers defensive driving courses and DWI schools. Richardson says the better the tires are on a vehicle, the better the odds are of not hydroplaning. But he also says the lighter weight of the vehicle, the odds of hydroplaning increase, and when that happens he says, the worst thing a motorist can do is to "hit the brakes".

Missouri State University Physics Professor Bob Whitaker

says when the brakes are applied while hydroplaning, "there is nothing there to slow you down" because it takes friction between the road and the tires to bring you to a stop, and the layer of water on the road removes that friction, and the vechile will float on the water"

Mike Richardson says to avoid hydroplaning, first, "know if your vehicle has a tendency to hydroplane in the first place, slow down, and when seeing a patch of water in the road, don't drive directly into it. And if you do start to hydroplane, "do NOT hit the brakes. Instead, ease off the accelorator"

For KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.