Determining Fault When You Hydroplane
Driving in poor weather conditions can increase the risk of a car accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 21% of all car accidents in the United States are weather-related. One type of wet weather accident that can occur is hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle’s tires lose their grip on a road surface and travel across a film of water. When this happens, a driver can lose control of the vehicle, causing a severe accident with other cars and pedestrians. If a person is driving recklessly on slick and wet roads, they could be at fault for a hydroplane crash.
Knowing what can affect your liability in the event of a hydroplane accident and how to prevent a hydroplane crash can protect your physical and financial well-being.
What Affects Liability for a Hydroplane Accident?
All Missouri drivers must drive carefully and cautiously to avoid risking others’ lives and property. Missouri requires drivers to use the highest degree of care when on public roads and highways. This means acting as a reasonably careful and prudent person would under similar circumstances.
For example, when driving on rainy, slick roads, a driver should exercise a high degree of care by driving slowly and using their headlights. If a driver fails to use the duty of care while driving on wet pavement in a way that could prevent or minimize harm, they may be held responsible for damages resulting from an accident.
Common Situations Where a Driver Can Be At Fault in a Hydroplaning Accident
Drivers who disregard road safety rules and engage in dangerous behavior during rainy weather can be responsible for a hydroplaning accident. The most common situations where drivers are responsible for a hydroplaning accident include:
When driving on wet roads, the tires of a vehicle need time to push water out of the way, allowing the treads to make contact with the road surface. The faster a car travels, the less time the tires have to push the water and create tension with the road’s surface.
For instance, the tires can completely lose contact with the road when driving at 55 mph during a severe rainstorm.
- Tires Were in Poor Condition
When drivers fail to maintain their tires, resulting in wear-and-tear or improper pressure, they are at greater risk of hydroplaning accidents. Tire tread wear reduces the tire’s ability to push water out of the way, causing hydroplaning when it loses contact with the road.
Low or high tire pressure can affect a tire’s ability to make contact with the road and cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Not Following the Rules of the Road
Not following standard road rules, such as driving slowly and not following too closely, can create liability in a hydroplaning incident. The Missouri Department of Revenue advises drivers to slow down and use the three-second rule to leave a safe distance between their vehicles and other cars in front of them.
If drivers disregard basic safety rules on the road and fail to adapt to weather conditions, they can be responsible for the accident. For example, sudden braking or turning can cause the vehicle to lose control on wet roads and lead to hydroplaning.
- Ignoring Weather Conditions
Ignoring weather conditions like heavy rain or flooding while driving can make you liable for a hydroplaning accident. Since Missouri expects all drivers to take the highest care, you must stay aware and change your driving to the road conditions, including the weather.
If you were driving at high speed during heavy rain and hit another vehicle, you could be liable for the damages.
If you’re in a hydroplaning accident, a car accident lawyer from Cofman Townsley can review evidence to determine if another driver is responsible for the crash. We can examine the police report, eyewitness accounts, and photos and videos of the accident to establish fault and get you compensation.
How to Avoid a Hydroplane Accident
Driving at a safe speed appropriate to the weather and road conditions is vital to avoiding hydroplaning. You can also maintain your tires’ pressure and inflation to improve traction and reduce the likelihood of hydroplaning.
- Maintain Good Tire Tread
Regular tire maintenance is crucial for preventing hydroplaning incidents. You can use the penny test to check your tires’ tread depth. If the tread doesn’t cover Abe Lincoln’s head, the tread is likely below 2/32 inches and needs a replacement.
- Inflate Your Tires Properly
Check your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure to ensure optimal traction and grip on the road. When a tire’s pressure is too high, release air by pushing the valve. If the pressure is too low, connect an air compressor to the tire’s valve to fill it with air.
- Drive Slowly During Rainstorms and On Wet Roads
Avoid sudden acceleration, braking, or turning. This can cause loss of traction and hydroplaning. Instead, slow down below the speed limit to maintain a safe distance from other drivers.
- Don’t Use Cruise Control
When driving without cruise control, releasing the gas pedal and pressing the brake pedal shifts the car’s weight to the front tires, improving traction. This weight shift does not occur when using cruise control, so using the system in the rain can create problems with traction.
Moisture can also affect the reliability of your car’s cruise control sensors, so avoid using cruise control in wet weather.
Contact Cofman Townsley for a Free Consultation
Although you may take necessary safety precautions when driving, getting into a hydroplaning accident with another vehicle may be unavoidable and can leave you with financial losses and emotional damage. If you were in a hydroplaning crash, Cofman Townsley is ready to investigate your case to determine who may be at fault for the accident.
Our lawyers will help you pursue appropriate legal action against a negligent driver to ensure that you receive maximum compensation after an accident. Contact us today for a free case review.