Techniques to Avoid Hydroplaning CDL: What you need to know”

As a professional driver, hydroplaning can be a serious safety concern. It occurs when your tires lose traction with the road due to standing water or other slippery substances on the pavement, causing your vehicle to skid or slide out of control. Hydroplaning can be especially dangerous for commercial drivers, such as those with a CDL license, as the large size and weight of their vehicles can make it difficult to regain control in a hydroplaning situation. In this article, we will discuss defensive driving techniques to help CDL drivers avoid hydroplaning and stay safe on the road.

Understanding Hydroplaning

Before we discuss how to avoid hydroplaning, it’s important to understand what causes it. Hydroplaning occurs when a thin layer of water accumulates between your tires and the road surface, causing your tires to lose traction. This can happen at any speed, but it’s more likely to occur when driving in heavy rain or when roads are wet from melting snow or ice. The risk of hydroplaning increases when driving at higher speeds or when your tires are worn or improperly inflated.

Defensive Driving Techniques to Avoid Hydroplaning

Here are some defensive driving techniques that CDL drivers can use to avoid hydroplaning:

1. Reduce Speed

One of the most effective ways to avoid hydroplaning is to slow down. Driving at a slower speed reduces the amount of water that your tires must displace, making it easier for them to maintain traction with the road. CDL drivers should adjust their speed to match the conditions of the road, especially when driving in wet conditions.

2. Maintain Proper Tire Pressure

Proper tire pressure is essential for maintaining traction on wet roads. Underinflated tires can increase the risk of hydroplaning by reducing the amount of tire surface area that makes contact with the road. CDL drivers should check their tire pressure regularly and keep it at the manufacturer’s recommended level.

3. Check Tread Depth

The tire tread is designed to channel water away from the tire and maintain contact with the road surface. Worn tires with shallow tread depth can’t do this effectively, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. CDL drivers should inspect their tires regularly and replace them when the tread depth falls below 4/32 of an inch.

4. Avoid Standing Water

When possible, CDL drivers should avoid driving through standing water on the road. Even a small amount of standing water can increase the risk of hydroplaning, especially if it’s deeper than the tread depth of your tires. If you must drive through standing water, slow down and try to drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you, as this may provide a firmer grip on the road.

5. Keep a Safe Following Distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is always important, but it’s especially crucial when driving in wet conditions. A longer following distance gives you more time to react to changes in traffic and road conditions, reducing the risk of sudden braking or acceleration that can cause hydroplaning. CDL drivers should aim for a following distance of at least six seconds in wet conditions.

6. Avoid Sudden Braking or Acceleration

Sudden braking or acceleration can cause your tires to lose traction, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. CDL drivers should brake and accelerate gradually to maintain control of their vehicle in wet conditions.

7. Use Properly Functioning Wipers and Defrosters

Properly functioning wipers and defrosters are essential for maintaining visibility in wet conditions. CDL drivers should ensure that their wipers and defrosters are in good working condition and use them as needed to maintain visibility.

8. Avoid Using Cruise Control

Using cruise control in wet conditions can increase the risk of hydroplaning, as it can cause your vehicle to maintain a constant speed even when road conditions change. CDL drivers should avoid using cruise control in wet conditions and use their judgment to adjust their speed as needed.

9. Be Mindful of Road Conditions

Be aware of the road conditions ahead and adjust your driving accordingly. Hydroplaning can occur more easily on certain road surfaces, such as concrete or worn asphalt. If you notice that the road is particularly slippery, slow down and take extra caution.

10. Drive Defensively

Defensive driving is always important, but it’s especially crucial in wet conditions. Pay attention to your surroundings, maintain a safe following distance, and avoid distractions that can take your attention away from the road.

11. Consider Aquaplaning

Aquaplaning occurs when your vehicle loses control completely and skids on a layer of water. It’s important to know the signs of aquaplaning so you can take action to regain control. If you feel your vehicle start to drift or skid on wet roads, take your foot off the accelerator and steer gently in the direction you want to go until you regain control.

12. Take a Defensive Driving Course

Consider taking a defensive driving course that focuses on wet weather driving techniques. These courses can provide valuable insights and tips for staying safe on the road in wet conditions.

13. Plan Your Route

When possible, plan your route to avoid areas that are prone to flooding or standing water. This can help you avoid hydroplaning and stay safe on the road.

14. Practice Good Vehicle Maintenance

Good vehicle maintenance is essential for staying safe on the road in any condition. CDL drivers should ensure that their vehicles are properly maintained, including regular inspections of brakes, tires, and other essential components.


In conclusion, by mastering defensive driving techniques to avoid hydroplaning, CDL drivers can stay safe on the road even in the most challenging weather conditions. Remember, it’s not just about getting to your destination quickly, but also about arriving there safely. So, stay alert, maintain a safe speed, and be prepared for unexpected situations. With these techniques in your driving arsenal, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of the road.

Q: What is hydroplaning, and why is it dangerous for CDL drivers?

A: Hydroplaning is when your vehicle’s tires lose contact with the road surface due to a layer of water on the road, resulting in reduced traction and control. It’s particularly dangerous for CDL drivers because their large vehicles are more difficult to maneuver and can cause greater damage in the event of an accident.

Q: What are some defensive driving techniques to avoid hydroplaning?

A: Some effective defensive driving techniques to avoid aquaplaning include maintaining a safe speed, avoiding sudden movements, using good quality tires with adequate tread depth, and avoiding standing water on the road.

Q: Can hydroplaning be completely avoided?

A: Unfortunately, hydroplaning can never be completely avoided, but the risk can be significantly reduced by practicing defensive driving techniques and being aware of weather conditions.