Could new gadget spell the end of aquaplaning and save lives?

Could new gadget spell the end of aquaplaning and save lives?
Losing grip on wet roads may be a thing of the past thanks to a clever safety device designed to blow water away as you drive.

Researchers at Coventry University say their Run Dry Traction System (RDTS) could be the ‘difference between life and death’.

The system sprays compressed fluid in front of a car’s tyres to prevent water building up between a vehicle and the road to reduce the chances of aquaplaning, otherwise known as hydroplaning.

Aquaplaning occurs when a layer of water (sometimes as little as 2-3mm deep) separates a vehicle’s tyres from the surface of the road and compromises drivers’ abilities to steer, brake and accelerate.

The problem is a cause for concern as there were more than 170 days of rain in the UK last year1 and it’s estimated that wet weather conditions are responsible for 30% of all road accidents.2

Mike Blundell, professor of vehicle dynamics and impact at Coventry University said: “A device like this really could be the difference between life and death if it can help vehicles to stop safely within certain distances and that’s why we’re so keen to continue developing this concept.”

Early tests show that the RDTS can reduce the time it takes for a vehicle to stop by up to 60%. Stopping distances are also reduced by 3-5 metres at speeds between 60 and 70 mph.

Mr Blundell added: “Our tests demonstrate that RDTS has the potential to make a huge impact on vehicle safety in a whole host of conditions.

“The prospect of producing something that could even save lives on the road is extremely exciting and after some initial success with testing, we’re now eager to look into manufacturing potential and further research to take this concept to the next level.”

Ravi Ranjan, from Coventry University’s Research Centre for Future Transport and Cities said: “We have had discussions with several car manufacturers in the UK and they’re very excited about the prospect of the solution and they’re watching us very closely.”3 

The team behind RDTS say the system has been designed to fit buses, trucks and motorcycles. They also hope to develop the device to improve aircraft ground operations and rail transport safety.

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