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Safety Tips for Driving in Rainy Weather

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With El Niño in full swing, motorists can expect adverse driving conditions on the roads. Regardless of where you are in the Los Angeles area, the current weather forecast is a lot of rain. Wet roads, strong winds, and impaired visibility are dangerous combinations. Getting behind the wheel of any vehicle, regardless of size or power, during foul conditions, means having to be prepared for anything. It's important to know and practice driving safety in rainy weather and it starts before you even buckle-up.

Rain Car Crash Statistics demonstrate Real Danger

Though rain is a generally common occurrence, it remains a driving hazard. While counterintuitive, rain actually poses more of a danger than snow and ice, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation,

Federal Highway Administration. Over the course of a decade, the federal agency discovered nearly half of all weather-related roadway vehicle collisions occur in the rain. That's compared to only 17 percent of auto accidents, happening in sleet and snow. The reason for this disparity is attributed to motorists staying off the road when snow and sleet are present. However, rain car crash statistics tell a dramatically different story.

Floods can rise slowly or quickly. It takes only 2 feet of water to float a large vehicle, officials warn. Floods can catch drivers off-guard and lead to an especially dangerous condition. However, even though you might not be in danger of being swept away by flood water, it recommended you carry the following items when traveling: Tire chains and tighteners, flashlight and batteries, flares, small shovel, windshield scraper, warm, waterproof clothing, blankets, snacks and drinking water. However, a cellphone with a backup power source might be the single most important safety item available. --Los Angeles Times

There are 5,760,000 auto collisions every year in the United States; just over 21.8 percent, or, 1,259,000, occur in bad weather. Each year, weather-related vehicle collisions claim the lives of almost 6,000 drivers and passengers, with over 445,000 people being injured, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Surprisingly, 73 percent of all weather-related crashes occur as a result of wet pavement, while 46 percent actually happen in rain. Respectively, the 10 year average is 907,831 auto collisions on wet pavement and 573,784 during rain. By contrast, just 13 percent of all weather-related accidents occur on icy pavement and only 3 percent in fog.

Safety Tips for Driving in Rainy Weather

Such sobering statistics clearly demonstrate rainy conditions are dangerous. Remarkably, few motorists are actually prepared to commute or travel during rainfall. It all starts with being proactive, readying your vehicle, and, knowing how to safely drive in rainy weather:

  • Check tire tread. Insert a quarter between the tire tread and look for the top of George Washington's head. Should you see the president's head, it's time to replace the tire. It's a good idea to replace all four at once, otherwise, there's likely to be one or more with new tread and one or more with mediocre or worn tread.
  • Measure tire pressure. Find the manufacturer's recommended pressure on the tire wall and use a tire gauge to measure the pressure. This should be done once per month, to ensure tires are properly inflated and not seeping air.
  • Inspect windshield wipers. Look over the windshield wipers carefully, taking note of any splits or cracks in the rubber. If the wipers are worn, replace both sides to ensure you have better visibility.
  • Test all vehicle lights and signals. Test the headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and directional signals on your vehicle and replace bulbs if necessary. In the state of California, headlights are required by law to be on when it's dark outside, when windshield wipers are used continually, or, if visibility is under 100 feet, according to AAA.
  • Drive slow and carefully on wet pavement. Tires work best when in direct contact with the street, but, are not as reliable when water is present. Friction lessens in wet conditions, which limits the ability to control the vehicle. So, drive about 15 mph slower than the posted speed limit.
  • Keep a safe distance away from the vehicle in front. Even though roads are generally congested in Los Angeles, you should keep a safe distance from the vehicle you're following. In dry, normal conditions, you should follow 3 to 4 seconds behind, in the rain, increase it to 5 or 6 seconds.

In addition, if at all possible, you should refrain from driving during heavy storms. If you must drive in the rain, never go through a puddle if you do not know how deep it is, especially if the water reaches the bottom of your doors. Puddles can occur where the angle of the roads force water to gather at the edges of the road. Not only can a vehicle hydroplane (when the tires lose contact with the road and slip across the water), but a car be splashed by another traveling through a puddle, causing momentary lost visibility. This is dangerous, especially considering this is a frequent occurrence on freeways where vehicles are traveling at higher speeds. If you should you experience hydroplaning, take your foot off the accelerator, and, gently, steadily, apply the brakes.

If you or someone you love have been involved in a car accident and are unsure what to do with your damaged vehicle, mounting medical bills, missed time at work, and even putting the pieces back together, we are here to answer your questions and help carry the burden throughout the litigation process if you hire us to represent you. Every day is critical to your case so the sooner you seek legal advice and help, the sooner you can start getting your life back in order, the better it is for you and your family. Our knowledgeable and courteous staff will assist you getting through the legal process

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