Tips for Driving in the Rain in LA
It's winter and it's raining in Los Angeles. Last weekend LA county was averaging at one crash per minute. Sometimes collisions are not our fault, but often there's a few things we can do to avoid them.
1. Prepare your car
Check your windscreen wipers, replace them if necessary. Have the tires checked and change them if the tread is getting too low, worn tires are more prone to hydroplaning -where your car slides on top of the water. Check the brakes to make sure they're working at optimum level. Make sure all your lights, headlights, turn signals, brake lights and reversing lights, are in working order, replace any bulbs that have gone.
2. Turn on your lights.
Reduced visibility is a major problem caused by the rain. The grey skies, water on your windows, and poorer light make it more difficult for you to see and be seen. Worst of all is when mirrors and windows fog up: it doesn't matter if your automobile is neon yellow, if the car in front of you has a fogged windscreen the only things they'll be able to see through that glass are lights. A lot of people crash in the parking lot simply because they can't see the car behind them as they're backing out of their space. Turn your lights on.
3.Window treatments and squeegees.
Whilst we're on the subject of fogged up windows, if your car is prone to condensation and doesn't clear very quickly, buy a squeegee from the dollar store and keep it in the car - at least you can start your journey without fogged vision. You might also consider getting a rain repelling window treatment which helps to clear rain quickly from your windows. Follow the instructions carefully though, your windows need to be kept clean and dry for 24 hours after treatment.
4. Leave a gap.
Quite simply, it takes longer to stop on a wet road than it does on a dry road. People are always going to brake sharply in front of you no matter what the weather. Furthermore, on a slippery road wheels can lock up and you can find yourself hydro-planing across the slick surface, unable to stop. (If you don't have an anti-lock braking system in your car you should pump your brakes continuously to stop, rather than braking in one motion.) You should leave a big enough gap so that you can come to a complete stop without having to slam on the brakes.
5. Give yourself more time.
If your journey normally takes 15 minutes, accept that it's going to take 30 minutes on a rainy day. Why rush and take crazy risks in awful driving conditions, when you can just get up 15 minutes earlier?
6. Be especially aware of pedestrians and cyclists.
They're exposed to the rain, they're not concentrating on looking where they're going, they're focusing on moving quickly because they're soaking wet and they'll take more risks than usual because they want to get out of the rain.
7. Know your route beforehand.
Los Angeles is a really easy place in which to get lost and it's not uncommon to find oneself careering across two or three lanes because you're in danger of missing your exit off the freeway. You don't want to be making sudden lane changes and swerving through traffic when the roads are wet and other drivers can't easily see you.
8.Drive as if highway patrol were right behind you.
No talking on your cell phone, no sneaky surreptitious texting, no risky over-taking/lane-changing, no speeding, no dashing through amber/red lights when you had sufficient time to stop; no putting on your make-up or eating your breakfast. All those things put you at increased risk of having an accident.
9. Slow down.
It's the most common sense piece of advice but people quite often just don't follow it. You might have a car in great condition that can handle the rain really well, but the other people on the road probably don't. Remember, if you get into a collision the impact's going to be less severe if you're going slowly than if you're doing your best impression of an Indy 500 racer.