Good morning everyone. It is another rainy day in southern California. The Drive Happy car is on the road today in the cities of Murrieta and Temecula. We have been teaching quite a few rain driving lessons this week, a great and rare opportunity for southern California students. For those of you that have been unable to take a rain driving lesson this week we’d like to share our best tips for driving in the rain.
Tip 1: SLOW DOWN!
While it may sound obvious this is the single most important thing that you can do while driving in the rain. When the pavement is wet and visibility is reduced you should be travelling 5 – 10 miles below the posted speed limit. If you find yourself caught in a major deluge you should consider driving even slower. Always remember California’s Basic Speed Law states that you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions.
Tip 2: Use your headlights with you windshield wipers.
Rain reduces visibility for you and all of the other road users. By switching on your headlights anytime your windshield wipers are on you will make your car more visible to others, reducing the chance of a collision. In California this not just a good idea, it is the law. An even better idea would be to make your next car purchase a model that has always on headlights. The Toyota Corolla has this feature and it is one of our favorites. Studies have shown that even on clear sunny days, cars with there headlights on are more visible and less likely to be involved in a collision.
Tip 3: Avoid driving in flooded lanes
Southern California does not have the best storm drainage systems. For the most part our water runs down the right hand curb, and eventually into a seasonal stream. Heavy rain will cause the right hand curb gutter, and often the entire lane to flood. You should avoid driving in this lane whenever possible. Be sure to change lanes carefully.
Tip 4: Puddles = NO GAS + FIRM GRIP ON THE STEERING
When driving through a puddle you should let your foot of the gas and keep both hands firmly on the wheel. Avoid braking while driving through. If you feel the need to slow down do it before entering the puddle. Most puddles contain enough water to overwhelm the tread on your tires. You will be either partially or completely hydro-plaining (water separates your tires from the road-way) through the puddle. This is why you should NOT brake or steer in the puddle. Allow the cars forward momentum to carry you straight through.
Tip 5: DO NOT CROSS DEEP OR FAST MOVING WATER
Always be extremely cautious when approaching water of unknown depth. If the water appears to have significant current (i.e. fast moving water or mud) you should consider an alternate route. Mud in particular has tremendous force when travelling at speed. Inches is enough to sweep a grown man off his feet. With enough speed mud can also lift your car, and carry it away. If you are not certain you can make it, do not attempt it.
Be careful out there today, and remember to. . .