As Southern Californians know, even small amounts of rain — let alone larger amounts like we’ve been experiencing since late last month — make driving on freeways and surface streets alike a challenge. For those who hail from other parts of the country, it can be frustrating that some people seemingly forget how to drive when rain starts falling.
It’s not simply that the surfaces are wet. After months of little if any precipitation, roads are filled with oil and grease that increase their slickness. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris cause slow runoff, which can result in standing water and hydroplaning.
Even though you can’t control road conditions or other people’s driving, there are some important cautions you can take while driving in the rain — whether it’s a drizzle or a downpour — to keep yourself and others safe.
— Slow down. It’s often best to drive below the speed limit in order to maintain control of your vehicle should you hit a slippery patch or standing water.
— Don’t tailgate. Allow extra room between your car and the one in front of you in case you have to slow or stop unexpectedly.
— Turn on your headlights whenever you are using your wipers, even if it’s a partly sunny day.
— Try to avoid driving through standing water.
— Be aware of your surroundings. Scanning the area in front of you can alert you to dangers up ahead. Noting cars around you can help avoid a crash if one of them is forced to make a sudden move.
— Keep your car well maintained. Make sure that your wipers are clean and working and that your tires are properly inflated and not worn.
If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver, the fact that it was raining doesn’t relieve that driver of responsibility if he or she was driving too fast for conditions or not taking proper precautions during inclement weather. If an accident occurred because a road wasn’t properly maintained, the entities responsible for maintaining the road may also be able to be held liable.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “How to drive in the rain: A guide for Southern Californians,” Lauren Raab, accessed Jan. 11, 2017