Rain's Hidden Danger

Safety Tip of the Week
How To: Prevent Hydroplaning

One of the dangers motorcycle enthusiasts face when riding in the rain is hydroplaning—when your tires skid across a wet surface. Tires are made to scatter water, but sometimes you run into more water than the tires can scatter. Then water pressure in the front of the wheel forces water under the tire so that a thin film of water separates the tire from the surface of the road and the tire loses traction. The rider loses control of steering and speed.

Any rain (or other water on the roadway) can cause hydroplaning. However, the first few minutes of a light rain are especially hazardous. This is because the rain mixes with any oil on the road surface. Any vehicle going over 35 miles an hour can hydroplane in such conditions.

You can do some things to avoid hydroplaning:

  • Keep tires properly inflated. Check them every time you ride, because changing air temperature changes tire pressure.
  • Slow down when the road is wet. The faster you go, the harder it becomes for your tires to scatter water.
  • Don’t drive through standing water, even puddles.
  • Water tends to accumulate at the road’s edge, so stay more toward the center.
  • If you can, ride in the track of the vehicle ahead of you. That takes advantage of any water-scattering done by that vehicle’s tires.
  • Avoid braking if you can and try not to make sharp turns.