Caution urged for drivers on wet roads; 2 hydroplane crashes

SOUTHERN UTAH — The Utah Highway Patrol responded to two separate and unrelated vehicle accidents that resulted from hydroplaning on Interestate 15 on a somewhat rainy Saturday morning.

By 12:34 p.m., three other crashes occurred on Utah highways involving vehicles losing control on wet roads: one in Davis County, one in Parleys Canyon and one in Tooele County, according to updated release from Utah Department of Public Safety.

At approximately 7:18 a.m. a woman and her husband were traveling northbound on I-15, near mile marker 20, which is about three miles south of Leeds, when their Toyota Highlander began to hydroplane on the slick road. The driver over-corrected and slid into the median, struck a guard rail and rolled once, landing on the wheels, Utah Department of Public Safety Spokesman Joe Dougherty said.

The vehicle was towed and both passengers were transported by ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for non-life threatening injuries.

Shortly after the first accident and just before 8:30 a.m., a man was driving northbound on I-15 near mile marker 12, which is about two miles north of Washington’s Exit 10, when his 2013 Dodge Truck began to hydroplane. In the midst of the hydroplaning the truck struck a guard rail knocking the truck sideways in the road. No injuries were reported. There was slight damage to the truck, but towing was not necessary.

“In both incidents the drivers received citations for driving too fast for conditions,” Dougherty said.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Hydroplaning

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, similarly to water skiing, at speeds as low as 30 mph. Hydroplaning makes it difficult to steer or brake safely.

Utah Department of Public Safety offers the following tips for handling hydroplane situations:

  • Drivers should slow down in wet conditions. Depending on conditions the posted speed limit may be an unsafe driving speed.
  • 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 accelerator and gradually slow down.

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

UPDATED 1:13 p.m. Second paragraph added per DPS update mentioning three additional crashes.

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1 Comment

  • KanabCowgirl April 26, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Looks like people were slip sliding away off the freeway.

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