The UK has just experience the wettest April* on record and these are the conditions that can quickly turn a normal road or motorway into a hazardous skidpan. When water collects on a road surface the possibility of aquaplaning increases dramatically. Aquaplaning is when a cushion of water builds up between the tyre and the road surface. The result is a loss of steering control which could lead to an accident.
To help prevent aquaplaning, having adequate tread depth and tyre pressures are crucial. The law requires a minimum of 1.6mm of tread, however, safety and tyre experts recommend that to be on the safe side winter tyres, for instance, should have a minimum tread depth of 4mm (summer tyres should have a minimum tread depth of at least 3mm) – taking into consideration the advice to change tyres seasonally.
The greater the tread depth, say experts, the less likely it is that the driver will experience aquaplaning. In addition, the tyre pressure should be correct and set at the level indicated in the owner’s handbook. If aquaplaning does occur, the advice is to stay calm, come off the accelerator and don’t touch the brakes or try to turn the steering. As speed decreases, the tyres will start to bite through the film of water to the road surface and control can be regained.
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