On an average day, Los Angeles county’s traffic accident rate is around 40. When it rains, that number climbs to between two hundred to three hundred accidents, often with road closures and fatalities. It’s a good idea to review a few important issues so we can get these numbers down.
Brakes: In some vehicles, it may take longer to stop when it’s raining than it would when the roadway is dry. This is because of a decrease in friction. It’s best to begin braking earlier than you would on a dry roadway.
Concentration: Driving should take all of your concentration under any circumstances, but rain makes it even more important. Those driving around you may not know how to drive in the rain and they could do anything. Be prepared by concentrating on your own driving.
Hydroplaning: Even the best driver can have an issue with hydroplaning. This is where the car is actually driving on the water rather than the roadway. The difference is made by knowing what to do if it should happen. If your vehicle is trying to circle to the left, turn the wheel to the right and vice versa. Turning against the vehicle is the only way to have a chance at staying in your lane and heading in the direction you want to go.
Oil Buildup: In areas like Los Angeles, rain isn’t a year round thing. It usually only occurs during half the year, and that only if it’s a normal year or an El Nino is involved. Because of that, oil from the vehicles traveling on our roadways builds up. When it rains, that oil can make an already hazardous situation worse. It requires a lot more caution if there has been some length of time since the last rainfall.
Speed: I shouldn’t have to say this, but apparently it’s needed. Do not try to drive at “normal” speeds in the rain. All of the above mentioned problems are exacerbated by driving too fast. In fact, if you are driving the speed limit and an officer thinks the conditions are too dangerous for that limit, you can get a speeding ticket.
Tailgating: This is a common habit in Southern California drivers. Three feet from the bumper in front of you at 75 mph is a recipe for disaster at any time. Add rain and you get that 188 accidents rather than something closer to the normal 36. Know how fast your vehicle can stop and make sure there is enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If that driver hits something or hydroplanes, you could be able to avoid being part of the accident.
By following these tips and any other sensible precautions, you may be able to stay safe on the roadways when it rains. Of more of us follow the rules, there will be fewer accidents we’ll have to endure…and maybe we’ll save a life.