A semi-truck is a large vehicle with a tractor and trailer. Driving such a big vehicle is a difficult task. Driving it during bad weather like snow or rainfall is even more complex. It is not easy to predict whether your vehicle will hydroplane or not.
Can a Semi-Truck Hydroplane? Semi-trucks can hydroplane due to thick water film, high vehicle speed, and worn-out tires. This causes a loss of traction, and trucks can skid on the road. Avoid cruise control slow down the vehicle, inflate tires, and drive carefully to prevent it.
Hydroplaning is responsible for many accidents in the USA during heavy snow and rainfall. But careful driving and proper maintenance of a semi can help reduce this problem.
What is hydroplaning?
It is a scary situation that occurs on wet roads. It usually happens when there is rainfall and snow is melting. Driving a semi-truck on wet roads can cause its tires to lose contact with the road.
The loss of contact between tires and the road surface causes the truck to run on the water surface rather than on the road.
It can cause significant accidents during rainfall or when it is snowing. The drivers cannot control the speed or accelerate the vehicle due to loss of traction.
Will a semi-truck hydroplane?
Small vehicles like cars usually suffer more from hydroplaning issues. Semi-trucks are considered more safe and stable on wet roads due to their large size. Yes, these trucks can hydroplane despite their large size and heavy weight.
Various people assume that these vehicles can maintain their contact with road surfaces on rainy days. But You will be surprised to know that vehicles like heavy trailers can also slide on wet surfaces.
It is a more dangerous situation because the nearby small automobiles can get irreparable damage and can be a reason for dangerous accidents.
Why does a semi-truck hydroplane?
Hydroplaning is scary, and various faults and mistakes can cause it. Here is a brief description of all of them.
The thickness of water film on the road surface can cause these trucks to skid. The deeper the water level greater will be the chances of this issue.
When the water film is about 0.1 inch thick, the chances of hydroplaning are sufficiently high. It can lift the tires from the surface, and contact between the road and the vehicle is lost.
The presence of other liquids like oil or liquid residues on the road can worsen the situation. It can change the composition of water.
Poor road conditions can also make the situation worse. Heavy rainfall can also make small puddles of water on the road and cause hydroplaning.
Driving fast on wet roads can increase the chances of hydroplaning by many folds. The tire tread requires time to displace water from the road. But going fast will reduce the time to displace the water.
Semi-trucks with less time to displace water can get into trouble. High vehicle speed also contributes to it. Reckless driving by drivers can also cause it.
Worn out tires
Tread grooves are responsible for displacing water from the road. When the tire treads are intact, the chances of hydroplaning are low. But worn-out tires can cause the vehicle to slip because they cannot displace water from the road.
The tires are also not able to hold a grip on the road due to the presence of water film. That’s why worn-out tires can cause the semi-truck to slide on wet roads.
Tire size can also cause this issue, as wider tires have more surface area and greater contact with the road.
Low tire pressure can cause the semi-trailers to slide on the wet surface.
How to prevent hydroplaning in semi trucks?
It is essential to follow all the preventive measures to keep the vehicle and driver safe. Here is a brief description of all the safety measures to avoid hydroplaning.
Avoid using cruise control
Cruise control is a device in vehicles that allows the driver to set a specified speed and take off his feet from the pedal.
It is better to avoid using cruise control in the semi-truck on rainy days or wet roads. It can distract the driver and make the situation worse due to skidding.
Using manual control of the brakes and steering will allow the driver to control the situation effectively.
The drivers can keep the speed within the limit and apply the brakes on time to prevent all the problems.
Reduce vehicle speed
Reduce the semi-truck speed to a minimum to avoid hydroplaning on the roads. Maintain the truck speed lower than 36 mph to avoid the issue.
Do not make any sharp cuts on the road to prevent this problem. Accelerating the vehicle suddenly on the road can cause it to lose of traction.
So do not accelerate suddenly on the road during rainfall. Using lower gears can also help in avoiding this problem during heavy rains. In case of puddles of water on the road, take another safe route to travel to the destination.
Fix faulty tires
Proper care and maintenance of the truck tires can save us from many problems. Regularly check tire treads and its grooves. Replace the old and worn-out tires before starting the journey.
Check the air pressure in the tires regularly to maintain their functioning. Inflate all the tires before hitting the road to avoid hydroplaning.
Maintain the tread depth to about 2/32 of an inch. You can replace them with high-quality tires that are designed to tackle skidding.
Maintain safe distance
Hydroplaning is not only dangerous for semi-trucks but for other vehicles surrounding it. So maintaining a safe distance from the other vehicles can save us from many problems.
Increase the safe distance from other vehicles on rainy days. It is preferred to double the distance from other automobiles to prevent all the troubles. Try to drive in the center lane rather than the outer lane because the water tends to pool in the outer lanes.
Keep an eye on the surrounding while driving. Do not let yourself into trouble by neglecting small puddles or other liquid residues on the road. It is better to wait for some time rather driving in the heavy rainfall.
The drivers are responsible for the safety of the vehicle and other passengers. He should be careful while driving and avoid taking sudden brakes and accelerating the vehicle to prevent it.
What to do if a semi-truck hydroplane?
All drivers should know how to tackle this problem when it happens.
If the vehicle starts to hydroplane, keep yourself calm. Reacting with panic and anxiety can worsen the situation.
Do not apply brakes abruptly because it can cause the vehicle to slide even more. Slowly release the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow down.
Turn the steering into the skid and keep the steering correction small. Wait for a minute until you gain traction with the road. After regaining the traction, slowly apply brakes to stop the semi-truck.