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AAA offers wet weather driving tips

VIDEO: A safety expert at AAA explains how to recover from hydroplaning.

Wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes every year, according to AAA.

Hydroplaning happens when a sheet of water comes between your tires and the pavement, causing your vehicle to lose traction and even spin out of control, as seen in a simulation conducted by Consumer Reports. CR also simulated flooded streets on a closed test track to see how well different tires perform to protect drivers.

The conditions are very similar to what we experience almost daily in Jacksonville following heavy rains.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, a crash on Father’s Day left a 40-year-old man dead. Police said his two children were in the car at the time. The Sheriff’s Office noted that the roads were “soaked” and “slippery.”

In Alabama, according to authorities, eight children in a van were killed in a multi-vehicle crash Saturday on a wet interstate that also killed a man and his baby in another vehicle.

AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins says one common feature on newer vehicles actually increases the chances of your vehicle hydroplaning. He says that when drivers use cruise control, your vehicle’s sensors may be affected by the moisture, which means it may not be as reliable.

“Avoid using cruise control. That actually increases the likelihood of hydroplaning on wet roads,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says studies reveal vehicles can hydroplane at speeds as low as 35 mph.

He has the following suggestions:

  • Make sure your tires are inflated properly and that they have adequate tread.
  • Don’t panic if your car hydroplanes.
  • Instead, ease your foot off the gas.
  • And don’t slam on the brakes.

Jenkins also says the first rain of the day is often the most dangerous for drivers.

“When it comes to driving on the road, the first 10 minutes after the first rain is the most dangerous time,” Jenkins said. “It’s when rain mixes with oil and oil on new asphalt, and it’s a very slick roadway.”

It’s important to note that hydroplaning can occur on any type of vehicle that’s driving in water over a tenth of an inch thick on the highway, which is a common occurrence in Florida.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.