Driving on California’s thousands of miles of freeways and highways can be bad enough. Add rain or snow to that and you have a recipe for disaster. Why does it seem like otherwise normal, safe drivers lose their skills when a little precipitation hits the ground? Mainly it’s because they are employing the same techniques of sunny day driving in inclement weather. Then, of course, there are those people who are just discourteous or feeble-minded drivers.
While you can’t do anything about other drivers, you can employ some safety precautions to insure you are not one of the types of driver listed above. Naturally, the top of any suggestion list is to slow down. By driving at lower speeds, you are in a better position to be prepared for sudden stops due to debris and other wet-weather driving hazards.
On wet pavement, a car needs two to three times more stopping distance than dry. Add ice to the equation and multiply that figure a bit more. Extra distance provides a buffer zone in case of skids – you or the vehicle in front of you. If the car skids and control is lost, do not slam on the brakes. Instead apply the brakes with a steady, light pressure. DO NOT pump the brakes on ABS-equipped vehicles. Remember to steer in the direction the car is sliding.
Something else to do is check brakes after driving through puddles or other water hazards. Give them a tap or two when it’s safe. Speaking of water, it’s best to use the center lane when you can. Avoid outside lanes where water tends to collect. Also be wary of pooled water on the road as it may be concealing a deep pothole.
Something people forget about until they need them are windshield wipers. Check them while the sun is shining to be sure they are in working order when you need them. Finally, remember to turn on your headlights when it is raining or snowing. Besides being California state law, it helps other drivers see you. Take a few seconds and possibly prevent an accident. Don’t be a bad weather driving statistic.