If you come from a four season area to Southern California, you may find driving styles different. People forget the little indicator light that says which way the driver intends to go. If they do use it, it stays on for miles. When rain comes, this and other minor driving issues can lead to some life threatening situations.
Accident rates: When checking the CHP website before leaving on a trip it is astonishing to see how much difference there is in accident rates when it’s raining. They usually quadruple. While it isn’t always completely the fault of any one driver, there is usually something that could have been done to prevent it.
Why are there so many accidents? They have to do with driving styles and complications caused by being a fairly dry state most of the year. The following conditions are often part of any accident.
Oil: Even well maintained cars may contribute oil to the road surface as they go down a street or a freeway. As many of the cars aren’t quite as well maintained as they should be, this can build up into a serious threat. Water and oil don’t mix, but the water can make the oil more slippery than usual. Meteorologists often remind us of this fact before and during any storm.
Hydroplaning: Even without oil on the roadway, hydroplaning is a serious problem. It occurs when there is water between the tires of a vehicle and the roadway. There is very little control over a vehicle when this happens unless you can get contact with the roadway before you go spinning off into another lane.
Tailgating: This is one of the most irritating (and dangerous) aspects of driving in our area. People drive too close to the car in front of them. There is a good reason to have some distance between you and the person in front of you. It’s called stopping distance. If they slam on their brakes, you need to be far enough behind them to avoid rear ending them. When it’s raining, you will need even more distance…not less.
Too Fast: The speed limit on most freeways in Southern California is 65. If you drive 65 on a freeway in Southern California, you will probably get a ticket for impeding traffic. Most vehicles are going between 70 and 80 mph. If you drive that fast on a rainy road you are asking for trouble.
The worst problem about driving in the rain in our area is that we don’t just deal with one or two of the above. We usually have to deal with all of them together. That is why accident rates increase. If we all pay attention to what we learned in driver’s education, we might get along a lot easier on rainy days.