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Weekend Hydroplane Accident in Columbus Kills One

Steve Wagner

On Saturday, rainy weather played a role in an accident on northbound I-65, resulting in the death of one person. Thomas F. Pickett, 53, of Brownstown was driving his GMC Sierra in a heavy downpour on Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. The rain had left a lot of water on the road, and Pickett’s vehicle hydroplaned, left the interstate, and flipped into a drainage ditch. Although another vehicle was involved in the accident, the second driver was unharmed. Unfortunately, Pickett was pronounced dead at the scene.

Why Does Hydroplaning Happen?

There are many factors that can cause a car, truck, or motorcycle to hydroplane in wet weather. Some of these factors are completely out of the control of a driver. When roads are improperly designed, constructed, or maintained, excess water can accumulate on the road. For obvious reasons, an ineffective drainage system can pose a hydroplane risk.

Once the water is sitting on the roadway, a hydroplane accident can happen at any time. Both the condition of the car as well as driving behaviors can heighten or lower the risk of a vehicle hydroplaning.

Inadequate tire tread depth and underinflated tires prevent the tire from filtering excess water away from the tire effectively. Lighter vehicles also have a tendency to hydroplane more often because there is less weight to hold the vehicle down. In addition, wide tires can raise the risk of a vehicle losing traction to the ground.

Though hydroplane accidents can occur at any speed, there’s no doubt that faster driving speeds raise the odds of having such an incident occur. Drivers’ reactions to the water or the start of a hydroplane can greatly impact the severity of the accident. If a driver overreacts by aggressively braking or overcorrecting, a serious crash may occur. This is similar to driving in snow and ice, when it is critical for a driver to avoid panic and make good decisions.

Reducing the Risk of Hydroplane Accidents

No one can control the weather. Drivers have no sway over road conditions or other drivers. There are, however, some things everyone can do to lower their risk of being injured in a hydroplane accident.

  • Properly maintain your tires, especially during rainy seasons. Ensure the tires are properly inflated, and the tread has an appropriate depth.
  • When a downpour hits, lower your speed.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and watch for standing water.
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars to allow for additional reaction time if something happens.
  • Turn off cruise control. The presence of water on the roads can encourage the cruise control to increase speed, similar to what happens when a car in cruise control experiences an incline on the road.

A hydroplane accident victim may be owed damages by negligent parties, including other drivers and those responsible for road design and maintenance. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, the Indianapolis-based attorneys at Wagner Reese can help determine who may be at fault for your accident and can help you and your family. Call us today for a free consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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