In Reply to: What does "hydroplane" mean? Sounds like stupid q posted by uestion, but I'd appreciate the answer. on October 18, 1999 at 16:24:18:
Think of a rock skipping on the water. At low speeds, the rock sinks immediately. When it is faster it starts to skip a few inches at a time. At high speeds, the rock skips many feet.
Your tires will stay in contact with the wet road until the speed allows them to "skip" on the surface of the water on the road. When this happens, you can loose control and "float" off the road.
If you have tires with good tread, you will push the water out from under the tire and you can go faster without feeling the effect. As the tread wears, your tire cannot move as much water and you begin to hydroplane on the surface.
In some deep puddles (as little as 1/2 inch sometimes) you will hydroplane at freeway speeds no matter how good your tires.