Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Don, a parent:
How do you figure at what speed does an automobile start to hydroplane when driving on a wet surface.

Automobiles do not hydroplane when driving on a wet surface, they hydroplane when driving on a submerged surface. That is, there must be water present that is not bound to the road surface by surface tension.

Factors upon which hydroplaning depends would include speed, water depth, wheel size, tire tread depth, tire tread pattern, load, and load distribution. I suppose that in theory temperature and road surface contaminants would also play a role by affecting viscosity.

As water depth, at least, can change suddenly and unexpectedly, it is best not to try to push the limit!


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