On our drive back from California, we had an exceptionally close call. We were between Elko and Winnemucca (which, if you’re not aware, it pretty much Middle of Nowhere, Nevada) and driving through some thunderstorms. Desert rain has a tendency to be very, very strong but not affect a very large area or last very long. In this case, it was coming down hard enough to build up on the roads in shallow puddles. It’s not enough to stop you from driving, but it certainly is enough to make you start hydroplaning if you’re not careful. I was driving at the time and decided it would be a good idea to slow down a fair amount and disable the cruise control. The car next to us did not make a similar choice.
As they passed us, they started to drift towards the guardrail. They bounced off of it and started to spin. Thankfully, I had been maintaining my speed and managed to pass them just as they did a Michael Bay-style 180 on top of the water, missing us by what I can only assume must’ve been inches as I pulled slightly to the left to avoid them. I watched them spin around and bounce from guardrail to guardrail in my rear view mirror like they were in a bumper car. I pulled over as quickly as I could to see if they were okay, and they had managed to get turned back around the right direction and over onto the shoulder. The driver swore that both he and his passenger were okay, but I told them to get checked out in the hospital in Elko anyway. It was amazing that aside from some scrapes in the paint, the car looked just fine.
The only reason nobody was injured was divine intervention. By all accounts, hydroplaning next to an SUV at 75 mph should end in a multi-car pileup and a lot of people being flown to the hospital. Important lesson learned: always make sure you pray before a road trip, just in case.