Hydroplaning is when a vehicle loses traction due to water on the road. It is a severe concern for Canadian drivers, especially in wet conditions. 

When a vehicle hydroplanes, the tires lose contact with the road surface, reducing steering control and braking effectiveness. This can result in loss of vehicle control and potentially dangerous situations. 

Understanding how to avoid hydroplaning is crucial for all drivers.

This blog will explore tips and techniques to help Canadian drivers stay safe and prevent hydroplaning incidents. 

By understanding the causes of hydroplaning and implementing proactive measures, drivers can deal more confidently with wet roads and reduce the risk of accidents.

5 Prevention Tips To Avoid Hydroplaning

Understanding how to avoid hydroplaning is essential for the safety of passengers, drivers, and pedestrians. Here are some practical prevention tips that can help you drive safely. 


1. Technological Aids

Modern vehicles have various technological aids that enhance safety and help prevent hydroplaning. 

These technologies work together to provide better control and stability, especially in wet conditions. The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is particularly noteworthy.

Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS)

ABS is a critical safety feature that prevents wheels from locking up during braking, particularly on slippery surfaces like wet or icy roads. Here's a detailed explanation of how ABS works and its benefits:

Functionality of ABS

  1. Pulsating Brakes: ABS prevents wheel lock-up by rapidly pulsating the brakes. This pulsation allows the wheels to rotate rather than skidding, which helps maintain traction with the road surface.

  2. Sensors and Controllers: ABS uses sensors to monitor wheel speed. When the system detects a wheel about to lock up, it temporarily reduces brake pressure on that wheel and then reapplies it. This process occurs multiple times per second.

Benefits of ABS

  1. Enhanced Steering Control: By preventing the wheels from locking, ABS allows drivers to maintain steering control even during hard braking. This ability to steer around obstacles can be lifesaving.

  2. Shorter Stopping Distances: ABS can reduce stopping distances on wet or slippery surfaces, which is crucial in preventing accidents caused by skidding.

  3. Increased Safety: ABS enhances overall vehicle stability and safety, especially in emergency braking situations.

  4. Driver Confidence: Knowing that ABS is equipped can increase drivers' confidence in handling their vehicles under adverse conditions.

Standard Feature

  1. Wide Adoption: ABS is now standard in most modern vehicles, highlighting its importance in automotive safety. It has become a critical component in the broader effort to reduce road accidents and enhance driver control.

By combining good driving habits with the benefits of technological aids like ABS, drivers can significantly reduce the risk of hydroplaning and ensure safer journeys in all weather conditions. 

Traction Control Systems

Traction control systems (TCS) are essential for maintaining vehicle stability and control, especially on wet or icy roads where traction is compromised. 

These systems work with ABS and are designed to prevent wheel spin during acceleration by managing engine power and applying brake force to individual wheels as needed. 

Here's a detailed explanation of TCS and its benefits:

Functionality of TCS

  1. Wheel Speed Monitoring: TCS continuously monitors the speed of each wheel using sensors. When the system detects that one or more wheels are spinning faster than the others, indicating a loss of traction, it takes action to correct this.

  2. Brake Application and Engine Power Management: TCS can reduce engine power or apply brake force to the spinning wheels. This helps redistribute power to the wheels with better traction, preventing skidding and enhancing control.

Benefits of TCS

  1. Improved Acceleration: TCS allows for smoother and more controlled acceleration on slippery surfaces by preventing wheel spin, making it easier to start moving from a stop or to accelerate safely.

  2. Enhanced Vehicle Stability: By managing wheel spin, TCS helps maintain vehicle stability and prevent loss of control, especially during sudden acceleration or when driving on uneven surfaces.

  3. Increased Safety: TCS contributes to overall vehicle safety by reducing the likelihood of skidding and enhancing the driver's ability to maintain control in adverse conditions.

Real-World Applications

  1. Slippery Conditions: TCS is particularly beneficial in rain, snow, and ice, where traction is often compromised.

  2. Off-Road Driving: In off-road conditions, TCS helps manage power distribution to maintain traction on uneven and loose surfaces.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Electronic stability control (ESC) is a sophisticated safety system designed to improve vehicle stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding). 

ESC can automatically apply brakes to individual wheels and adjust engine power to help the driver maintain vehicle control. Here's a detailed look at ESC and its benefits:

Functionality of ESC

  1. Yaw Rate and Steering Angle Monitoring: ESC uses sensors to monitor the vehicle's yaw rate (rotation around its vertical axis) and the steering angle. It continuously compares the vehicle's actual path with the driver's intended path.

  2. Selective Braking: When ESC detects that the vehicle is not following the intended path (for example, if it's understeering or oversteering), it selectively applies brake force to specific wheels. This helps bring the vehicle back on course.

  3. Engine Power Adjustment: ESC can also reduce engine power to help regain control.

Benefits of ESC

  1. Prevents Skidding: ESC is highly effective in preventing skidding and losing control, notably when the vehicle's path deviates from the driver's intentions due to slippery conditions, sharp turns, or sudden maneuvers.

  2. Enhanced Cornering Stability: By managing brake force and engine power, ESC helps maintain stability during cornering, reducing the risk of rollovers and other accidents.

  3. Increased Safety: ESC significantly reduces the likelihood of crashes, particularly single-vehicle accidents. It's especially beneficial in preventing rollovers in SUVs and trucks.

Regulatory and Industry Impact

  1. Mandatory Implementation: Many countries, including Canada, have mandated the inclusion of ESC in new vehicles, recognizing its crucial role in vehicle safety.

  2. Widespread Adoption: ESC is now a standard feature in most modern vehicles, significantly reducing accident rates and enhancing overall road safety.

By utilizing advanced systems like traction control and electronic stability control, drivers can enjoy enhanced vehicle stability and safety. These technologies work together to prevent loss of traction and maintain control, making driving in adverse conditions much safer.

2. Driver Training

Driver training includes a variety of programs designed to improve drivers' skills and knowledge, with a strong emphasis on safety. 

Defensive driving training by the Canada Safety Training Center's Defensive driving training includes theoretical knowledge and driving exercises. 

It covers essential aspects such as understanding traffic laws, safe driving practices, vehicle handling, and emergency response techniques. 

Driver training aims to prepare individuals to be responsible and skilled drivers, capable of making informed decisions on the road to prevent accidents.

Importance of Defensive Driving Courses

Defensive driving courses are a specific type of training that teaches drivers how to anticipate and respond to potential hazards on the road. 

These courses offer multiple benefits to the drivers:

Enhanced Safety Awareness

  1. Risk Identification: Defensive driving courses train drivers to identify and assess potential risks, such as other drivers' unpredictable behaviors, driver fatigue, road obstacles, and changing weather conditions. This awareness and explained examples of defensive driving are crucial for preventing accidents.

  2. Proactive Driving: Drivers learn to be proactive rather than reactive, anticipating potential problems, taking preventive measures, maintaining a safe following distance, and being aware of escape routes in case of sudden stops.

Accident Prevention Techniques

  1. Emergency Maneuvers: Defensive driving courses teach critical skills like evasive steering, controlled braking, and skid recovery. These maneuvers are essential in avoiding collisions and safely navigating unexpected obstacles.

  2. Handling Adverse Conditions: Drivers are trained to manage their vehicles in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or ice. Techniques include reducing speed, understanding hydroplaning, and managing visibility.

Legal and Insurance Benefits

  1. Reduced Insurance Premiums: Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who have completed a defensive driving course, recognizing that these drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents.

  2. Traffic Violation Dismissal: In some jurisdictions, completing a defensive driving course can lead to the dismissal of minor traffic violations, helping drivers maintain a clean driving record.

Increased Confidence

  1. Skill Mastery: Defensive driving courses provide hands-on experience that helps drivers master their vehicle control skills, boosting their confidence in handling various driving scenarios.

  2. Stress Reduction: These courses can reduce driving-related stress and anxiety by equipping drivers with the knowledge and skills to handle unexpected situations.

Defensive driving courses enhance road safety by equipping drivers with the skills and knowledge to anticipate and respond to potential hazards. This ultimately leads to fewer accidents and safer driving environments.

Hydroplaning Simulations and Practice

Hydroplaning simulations and practice are essential components of advanced driver training programs. These exercises help drivers understand and experience the effects of hydroplaning in a controlled environment. 

Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds up between the tires and the road surface, causing a loss of traction and control. Drivers can learn how to handle their vehicles safely in such conditions through simulations.

Controlled Environment

  1. Safe Learning: Simulations are conducted in a controlled setting, often on specially designed tracks that can simulate wet conditions. This ensures that drivers can experience hydroplaning without its real-world risks.

  2. Realistic Scenarios: Advanced driving schools use sophisticated equipment to replicate the feel of hydroplaning, allowing drivers to understand the dynamics and challenges involved.

Practical Techniques

  1. Steering and Braking: Drivers practice correct steering and braking techniques to regain control during hydroplaning. This includes gently easing off the accelerator, avoiding sudden movements, and steering in the direction they want the vehicle to go.

  2. Speed Management: Drivers learn the importance of reducing speed before entering areas with standing water to minimize the risk of hydroplaning.

Building Confidence

  1. Experience: By experiencing hydroplaning in a controlled setting, drivers gain confidence in handling such situations. This experience can be invaluable in real-world conditions, where quick and composed reactions are crucial.

3. Emergency Handling

emergency handling

Emergency handling training equips drivers with the skills to react effectively in high-stress, unexpected situations. These situations include sudden obstacles, vehicle malfunctions, or adverse weather conditions. 

Proper emergency handling training can significantly enhance a driver's ability to avoid accidents and ensure safety on the road.

Evasive Maneuvers

  1. Steering Techniques: Drivers learn advanced techniques to maneuver around obstacles quickly and safely. This includes techniques like the "push-pull" method for better control and precision.

  2. Braking Methods: Training covers anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and techniques for maintaining control during emergency stops. Drivers practice threshold braking, applying the brakes just short of locking the wheels to maximize stopping power without losing control.

Skid Recovery

  1. Recognizing Skids: Drivers are taught to recognize the early signs of skidding and the types of skids, such as oversteer and understeer. Recognizing a skid early can help in taking corrective action promptly.

  2. Corrective Actions: Practical exercises focus on the correct responses to different types of skids. For example, in an oversteer skid (where the rear wheels lose traction), drivers are trained to steer into the skid to regain control.

Decision-Making Under Pressure

  1. Situational Awareness: Drivers practice maintaining situational awareness, even in high-stress scenarios. This includes scanning the environment, anticipating potential hazards, and planning escape routes.

  2. Calm Responses: Training emphasizes staying calm and composed during emergencies. Drivers learn breathing techniques and mental strategies to manage stress and make rational decisions.

Vehicle Control

  1. Handling Techniques: Drivers practice handling their vehicles in various conditions, including wet, icy, or uneven surfaces. This includes learning to distribute weight, manage traction, and use all available safety features effectively.

  2. Simulator Training: Advanced driving schools may use simulators to replicate extreme driving conditions, providing drivers with a safe platform to practice and refine their emergency handling skills.

By mastering these skills, drivers can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and enhance overall road safety.

4. Vehicle Maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance is crucial for ensuring safety on the road, particularly in adverse weather conditions where the risk of hydroplaning and other hazards increases. 

Regular maintenance checks and timely repairs can help prevent accidents and improve vehicle performance.

Tire Maintenance

  1. Tread Depth: Ensure that tires have sufficient tread depth. Worn-out tires with shallow treads can reduce traction, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Use a tread depth gauge to check that your tires meet the minimum legal requirement, and consider replacing them if they are close to the limit.

  2. Tire Pressure: Maintain the correct tire pressure as the vehicle manufacturer specifies. Under-inflated or over-inflated tires can affect handling and traction, particularly in wet conditions. Regularly check tire pressure and adjust as needed.


  1. Brake Inspection: Regularly inspect the brake system, including pads, rotors, and fluid levels. Ensure that brakes are functioning effectively to provide maximum stopping power in emergencies.

  2. Brake Fluid: Check and replace brake fluid according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Contaminated or low brake fluid can reduce braking efficiency.

Windshield Wipers and Washer Fluid

  1. Wiper Blades: Replace windshield wiper blades every six months to a year or sooner if they show signs of wear. Effective wipers are essential for maintaining visibility in heavy rain.

  2. Washer Fluid: Keep the windshield reservoir filled with quality washer fluid to ensure clear visibility by removing dirt and debris.

Lights and Signals

  1. Headlights and Taillights: Ensure all lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, function correctly. Clean the lenses regularly to maintain brightness and visibility.

  2. Brake Lights: Check that brake lights are working correctly to alert other drivers when you are slowing down or stopping.

Alignment and Suspension

  1. Wheel Alignment: Regularly check and adjust wheel alignment to ensure proper handling and tire wear. Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear and affect vehicle control.

  2. Suspension System: Inspect the suspension system for wear and tear. A well-maintained suspension system provides better handling and comfort, particularly in adverse conditions.


  1. Battery Health: Regularly check the battery's health and charge level. A weak or failing battery can leave you stranded, especially in cold weather when battery performance typically decreases.

5. Driving Techniques

Adopting the proper driving techniques is essential for maintaining control and safety, especially in challenging weather conditions that increase the risk of hydroplaning and other hazards.

Speed Management

  1. Reduce Speed: Slow down when driving in rain, snow, or icy conditions. Reduced speed gives you more time to react to unexpected situations and reduces the risk of hydroplaning.

  2. Maintain Safe Following Distance: Increase the distance between your vehicle and the one ahead to allow more time to stop and avoid collisions in case of sudden braking.

Steering Control

  1. Smooth Steering: Avoid abrupt steering movements. Smooth and gradual steering helps maintain traction and control, especially on slippery surfaces.

  2. Avoid Oversteering and Understeering: Practice proper steering techniques to prevent losing vehicle control. Oversteering and understating can lead to skids and accidents.

Braking Techniques

  1. Use ABS Effectively: If your vehicle is equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. ABS prevents the wheels from locking up, allowing you to maintain steering control.

  2. Threshold Braking: For vehicles without ABS, use threshold braking by applying the brakes firmly but just short of locking the wheels. This technique maximizes braking efficiency while maintaining control.

Handling Curves and Turns

  1. Reduce Speed Before Turns: Slow down before entering a curve or turn to maintain control. Avoid braking while turning, as this can cause skidding.

  2. Smooth Acceleration: Gradually accelerate to regain speed without losing traction when exiting a turn.

Avoiding Hydroplaning

  1. Recognize Hydroplaning: If you feel the vehicle starting to hydroplane, gently ease off the accelerator and steer straight until you regain traction. Avoid sudden braking or steering.

  2. Drive-in Tire Tracks: When possible, drive in the tire tracks left by vehicles ahead, where the water is already displaced.

Visibility and Communication

  1. Use Headlights and Fog Lights: Turn on headlights in low-visibility conditions to improve your visibility to others. Use fog lights in dense fog, but avoid using high beams.

  2. Signal Early: Use turn signals early to communicate your intentions to other drivers, especially in adverse weather conditions where visibility is reduced.

By combining proper vehicle maintenance with effective driving techniques, drivers can significantly enhance their safety and control on the road. These practices help mitigate the risks associated with adverse weather conditions and improve overall driving performance.

How to Avoid Hydroplaning - FAQS

How do you avoid hydroplaning when driving in heavy rain?

To avoid hydroplaning in heavy rain, reduce your speed to prevent tires from losing contact with the road surface, ensure tires are correctly inflated with good tread depth, and avoid large puddles or standing water on the road.

What is the solution to hydroplaning?

The solution to hydroplaning involves:

  1. Maintaining proper tire tread depth.

  2. Reducing speed in wet conditions.

  3. Ensuring tires are inflated to the recommended levels for optimal grip on the road surface.

Which cars hydroplane the most?

Cars with worn-out or improperly inflated tires are more prone to hydroplaning. Additionally, vehicles with a higher center of gravity, such as SUVs and trucks, may experience increased hydroplaning risk due to weight distribution and tire size.

Final Words

Driving in severe weather needs an understanding of how to avoid hydroplaning. Proper vehicle maintenance, including regular checks of tires, brakes, and lights, is essential for maintaining control and preventing accidents. 

Adopting effective driving techniques such as reducing speed, maintaining a safe following distance, and using smooth steering and braking maneuvers can significantly reduce the risks associated with adverse weather conditions.

Technological aids like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), traction control, and electronic stability control (ESC) are crucial in enhancing vehicle safety by providing better handling and control.

Combined with defensive driving courses and emergency handling training, these systems help drivers with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate hazardous situations effectively.

Additionally, understanding the unique risks posed by larger vehicles like trucks and buses, using sunshades, staying hydrated, and knowing when to pull over and stop can further contribute to safer driving practices. 

Recognizing the signs of hydroplaning and how to respond appropriately can prevent dangerous skids and loss of control.