5 weather-related crashes cause Utah officials to warn drivers, offer advice

Posted at 3:11 PM, Apr 26, 2014

The following is a press release from the Utah Department of Public Safety.

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Highway Patrol responded to two minor crashes Saturday morning, in Washington County, both of which happened after vehicles hydroplaned on wet roads. Three other crashes, one in Davis County, one in Parleys Canyon and one in Tooele County also involved vehicles losing control on wet roads.

Hydroplaning happens when tires lose contact with the road in wet or slushy conditions. When water collects on roadways, a vehicle can begin to hydroplane, similary to water skiing, at speeds as low as 30 mph.

Hydroplaning makes it difficult to steer or brake safely.

We recommend that drivers slow down in wet conditions. The posted speed limit may be an unsafe driving speed, depending on conditions.

Motorists should also inspect their tires, which are designed to divert water as they roll. Worn tires are ineffective at diverting water. New tires are much less expensive than a new car or medical bills.

If you start to hydroplane, do not swerve or brake rapidly. It’s best to take your foot off of the acceleator and gradually slow down.

Parents can teach their young drivers about the effects of hydroplaning in large parking lot free of obstacles.

Here are the steps, as taken from the Driver License Division’s “Parent and Teen Driving Guide.”

Hydroplaning can be done on a rainy day in a large parking lot free of obstacles.

Using cones, or another object, have your child “draw” a figure eight around them at a very slow speed.

Have the novice driver increase speed gradually to the point of hydroplaning.

When this occurs, coach your child to reduce speed and to look and steer in the direction he or she wants the vehicle to travel.

For commercial drivers, here are recommendations from the Driver License Division’s “CDL Handbook:”

You can regain control by releasing the accelerator and pushing in the clutch. This will slow your vehicle and let the wheels turn freely.

If the vehicle is hydroplaning, do not use the brakes to slow down. If the drive wheels start to skid, push in the clutch to let them turn freely.