What Alaska Motorists Need to Know About Hydroplaning Car Accidents


Alaska is obviously known for its long winters and the snow, ice, sleet, and other harsh weather conditions that they bring. However, you might be surprised to learn that winter weather accidents are not as much of a threat as you would expect. The Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) reports that, of the 1.24 million weather-related incidents on US roadways every year, just 18% are linked to snow. The bigger threat is rain, which is responsible for 46% of these crashes and almost 213,000 injured victims annually. Wet roads create ideal conditions for hydroplaning, one of the most dangerous situations you may experience behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Hydroplaning is a physical phenomenon that occurs due to the interaction of your car’s tires and surface water, leading to loss of control over the vehicle. Still, motorists can easily avoid problems when they exercise proper care while driving. An Anchorage, AK car accident attorney can explain your legal remedies when a driver fails to account for weather conditions, but some background information may be helpful.


What it Means to Hydroplane 

When water collects on the road faster than a vehicle’s tires can whisk it away, it breaks the surface friction between the treads and the road. An automobile is essentially sliding and skidding along the surface of the water – not the roadway. The primary risk is during the first few minutes of rain, when the oil residue on the road makes the water even slicker. Loss of traction means loss of steering and braking control, leading the vehicle to careen out of control.


Liability in Hydroplaning Accidents

The cause of most auto collisions, in any type of weather, is negligence. This legal concept refers to a driver’s duty to operate the vehicle as a reasonably prudent person would. Liability attaches when the at-fault motorist breaches this duty of care, which directly leads to a crash. In the specific scenario of hydroplaning, drivers are responsible for knowing how weather limits the vehicle’s capabilities. Motorists are more likely to lose traction and control when they:

  • Speed too fast for conditions;
  • Slam on the brakes instead of easing into a stop; or,
  • Initiate a turn too quickly.


Note that there may be other parties responsible for a hydroplaning accident, a key point to understand if you were the driver of the car that lost control. The hydroplaning event may not have been due to your own negligence, but a manufacturing or design defect that renders your tires unsafe. In some cases, you may be able to pursue an auto, tire, or brake manufacturer. If you lost control over the vehicle because of improper road maintenance, responsible parties may include government agencies.


Our Alaska Auto Collision Lawyers Serve Victims of Weather-Related Accidents

At Power & Power Law, our legal team represents injured victims in all types of motor vehicle collisions, including those caused by negligent driving in foul weather. We are prepared to fight for your rights, so please contact our offices in Anchorage to set up a free consultation.