Steer clear of trouble when driving in the rain

By The Health News Team | January 10, 2023
Hand on steering wheel of car driving in the rain

Much has been reported about the strong thunderstorm severely impacting several areas of Northern California as well as flood advisories for counties northeast of San Diego County. But San Diego is not escaping weather warnings this week, as wind and high surf advisories remain in effect. And rain totals are estimated to reach up to 1 1/5 inches over the next several days.

Unfortunately, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), navigating slick, wet roads can be a challenge for some local drivers because heavy rains aren’t a regular occurrence in the county. What’s more, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 70% of weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and 46% occur during rainfall.

Staying safe on slick roads

To avoid accidents while driving in the rain, it’s important to practice extreme caution and know how to stay safe. The CHP and American Automobile Association offer these rainy day driving tips:

Before driving:

  • Consider postponing your drive until weather improves.

  • Check tires’ tread and pressure.

  • Check that windshield wipers are properly working.

  • Pack an emergency kit for your car with basic first aid items, flashlight and batteries, jumper cables, flares, hazard triangles, waterproof clothing, plastic tarp, blankets, snacks and drinking water.

  • Ensure you have enough gas and allow for extra time to get to your destination.

Once you begin your journey:

  • Turn on defroster to avoid window fogging.

  • Drive with headlights on.

  • Slow down.

  • Leave extra distance between your car and the next motorist.

  • Gently apply brakes to avoid skidding.

  • Stay alert for vehicles — your own and others’ — hydroplaning, which is when water causes a car’s tires to lose contact with the road and can cause skidding.

  • Don’t drive through still pools of water, which may be deeper than expected.

  • Crack windows if caught in stalled traffic to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

If your car begins to hydroplane:

  • Remain calm.

  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel.

  • Slowly take your foot off the gas pedal. Do not slam on the brakes or try to turn suddenly because this may cause your car to skid.

  • Turn slowly and only as much as necessary to keep your car on the road.

  • If you must use your brakes, brake gently.

  • As your car slows, the tires’ contact with the road will improve for better traction.

If you are involved in an accident:

  • Determine whether anyone is hurt and call for assistance if needed.

  • If there are no injuries and the accident was minor, carefully pull over to the side of the road. Turn on hazard lights and set up flares or reflective hazard triangles if available.

  • If you cannot move your car out of the road, move to a safe area, far away from the cars involved and other traffic, and be very cautious when exiting your car.

  • Call the police to report the accident. You may be advised to exchange information and report the incident online or at a local police station if an officer cannot come to the scene.

  • Exchange information with other drivers involved, get witness contact information and statements, and take photos of the cars and any damage that occurred. Take notes (recorded on your phone or written) of the scene, how the accident occurred, direction vehicles were traveling, etc.

  • Call a tow truck if needed.

  • Notify your insurance company.

Being prepared before your trip can help determine whether you have a safe arrival or an avoidable accident. In California, you can get information about road conditions by calling 1-800-427-7623 (ROAD) before leaving for your destination. Weather information throughout the country can be found on smartphone weather apps and by visiting weather.gov.

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