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Using Cruise Control in Wet Conditions Can Lead to Hydroplane Accident

Steve Wagner


  • Wet roads will continue to plague Indiana communities this spring as rain and warmer weather patterns welcome the new season.
  • Slick, wet roads often increase the likelihood of auto accidents and can cause significant injuries to those traveling both city streets and highways.
  • Hoosiers should pay attention to the weather and as soon as it is raining, or roads are wet, drivers should be taking extra precautions on roadways and know what to do if their vehicle were to lose control.
  • Rain mixed with cruise control can create deadly driving conditions. It is best to turn this feature off before the roads are wet to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Wet Pavement and Cruise Control: Don’t Do It

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are an estimated 950,000 automobile crashes each year due to wet pavement, resulting in approximately 4,700 deaths and 384,000 injuries. Spring is the ideal time for these crashes to occur as wet roads attribute to crashes even if drivers are using features designed for safe driving such as cruise control. Although this simple function has been refined and one of the most reliable of car accessories to monitor motorists’ speed and makes driving more comfortable, turning it on during wet weather won’t help a driver gain better control over their speed. When the rain is coming down, this is a sure time when experts will agree that cruise control should always be disabled.

Since cruise control helps drivers average out at a consistent traveling speed, many drivers believe they have an extra protection from accidents. But really it is the opposite when you add rain soaked, wet roads. The cruise control panel can cause the vehicle to jolt forward and go faster than expected for the moments the tires’ tread are off the pavement and coasting along slippery roadways. The driver then loses control once the vehicle returns back to the pavement at a high speed if locked into cruise.

Even the lightest of rainfalls can mix with dirt, grease, and oil on the road, create a slippery surface that can trigger accelerating cruise-controlled speeds, loss of car control, and serious crashes.

How to Safely Disengage Cruise Control in a Rainfall

When a motor vehicle loses traction over slippery pavement or in standing water, it can easily hydroplane and crash if set in cruise control, creating deadly driving outcomes. It is best to turn this feature off before the roads are wet to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Drivers should follow these easy rules if they find themselves in a situation where cruise control is engaged, and weather makes roads unexpectedly becomes wet.

  • As a precaution, watch the weather and as soon as it is raining, or roads are wet, disable the cruise control.
  • If rain suddenly approaches, turn off cruise control and slow the vehicle down by taking a foot off the gas pedal rather than applying the brakes quickly (unless you have anti-lock brakes).
  • Turning off cruise control is as simple as applying the brake, pressing the ‘cancel’ or ‘on and off’ buttons, or pushing the clutch pedal in a manual transmission vehicle.
  • Resume safe rain driving practices while keeping cruise control off until the destination is reached, or roadways become dry.

In general, stay off the road during rain. If you have to drive, avoid using your cruise control options.

Reducing the Risk of Hydroplane Accidents

Cruise control isn’t the only factor that can cause a car, truck, or motorcycle to crash in wet weather. Some factors are completely out of the control of even the most experienced driver. When roads are improperly designed, constructed, or maintained, excess water can accumulate on the road posing a dangerous hydroplane risk. 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 when it is critical for a driver to avoid panicking by making good decisions and knowing what to do.

If a vehicle starts to hydroplane, the driver should let up on the gas slowly, hold the steering wheel with both hands and avoid quick braking. Braking while hydroplaning will throw a driver into a vicious skid (unless they are anti-lock brakes). If in a skid, operators can regain control by steering in the direction of the slide, trying to keep the vehicle centered in the correct lane. Once back in control, it’s a good idea for a driver to safely pull over to regroup and gain confidence back before continuing to drive.

No one can control the weather. Drivers have no sway over road conditions or other drivers’ actions. There are, however, some things everyone can do to lower their own 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.

Once the water is sitting on the roadway, a hydroplane accident can happen at any time, but practicing good driving behaviors can heighten or lower the risk of a vehicle hydroplaning. During any season, drivers are faced with many different risks due from weather, but one thing remains the same: we are all relying on one another to arrive to our destination safely.

The car accident attorneys at Wagner Reese will continue to write about seasonal driving topics right here on the blog and share tips for what to do if you find yourself involved or injured in a car wreck. Stay in touch with us on our Facebook page and ask us any safe driving or car accident questions you might have. We may write about it to help you and others.

Wagner Reese Attorneys Can Support Your Wet Weather-Related Accident

A weather-related accident or hydroplane accident victim may be owed damages by negligent parties, including other drivers and those responsible for road design and maintenance. If you have questions about a car accident you have been involved in, get in touch with the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation. We put decades of experience towards our work and are here to assist you with your recovery, compensation, and legal questions.

Connect with us by submitting our online form, and our attorneys will review your information and respond promptly. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.


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