All of the talk on the radio and television this week seems to be centering around the possibility of snow at sea level this weekend. And while that is interesting, it seems to be swallowing up the real weather event that is headed our way that will surely bring rain and very very cold temperatures.
There are freeze alerts all over the Bay Area for both days this weekend. You can see live radar at this link.
The California Highway Patrol used the forecast as an opportunity to enforce a few great driving safety tips we all can use in the wild weather.
- Turn on your Lights! It’s the Law! The law requires that your vehicle lights be activated in the rain, when visibility is reduced or when your wipers are on.
- REDUCE YOUR SPEED! The maximum and posted speed limit may not apply to the wet road conditions and during rain or snow. Be attentive to the situation around you, including what other drivers are doing and how they are reacting to conditions.
- DON’T TAIL GATE! Leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you the extra time necessary to respond to any situation. You will also need more room to stop in case of emergency.
- Slow down early, before you encounter a problem, and be aware that you have less traction available from your tires - for stopping, steering and accelerating. Anti-lock brakes can't change the laws of physics it will take you much longer to slow or stop on wet roadways.
- Even a new tire will hydroplane on wet surfaces with standing water. Your Speed is what will determine your ability to control the car. In wet conditions, most cars will hydroplane at 60 mph in under an inch of water.
- If the steering begins to feel light or squirrelly, gently let off the accelerator and allow the car to slow to a more manageable speed. Don't abruptly hit the brakes; it could put you out of control on the wet surface, in a ditch or worse.
- If you find yourself in a skid, do not brake heavily, do not jerk the steering wheel, and do not panic. Instead, turn your steering wheel into the direction of the skid and gently brake.
- Be aware of the spray coming from passing trucks and oncoming cars. It may blind you temporarily, so anticipate this by increasing the speed of your wipers and by looking at what's happening to cars ahead of you.
- Turn down the radio, turn off your cell phone and maybe put off discussions of the day with your passengers. A distracted driver on slick, wet roads is another hazard to all of us. These conditions demand much more of your attention than driving during a normal commute.
- During the rain season, leaves clog up storm drains and create standing water on local streets and busy freeways. Remember, in California these conditions will last for months.
- Never drive your car through deep water on a flooded road. You simply cannot tell how deep the water is. It doesn't take much water to disable your vehicle. If you have any doubt about water depth, stop and go back the way you came. If you must drive through deep puddles, gently press the brake pedal one or two times afterwards to help dry the brakes before you need to use them to stop the car.
Ready Your Car
- If you are serious about safety and driving in wet slippery conditions, the CHP reminds you of several things you can do to prepare your car:
- Make sure your wiper blades are like-new and they still have a sharp wiping edge. Poor visibility is extremely dangerous.
- Regularly clean your wiper blades by running a damp cloth along their edges from time to time to remove the build-up of oils and debris that the wipers have removed from the windshield.
- Clean the outside surface of ALL your windows. Then clean all of the inside glass too! If your windshield is heavily pitted, it might be time for a replacement here as well. If you can’t see around you, you may become the next crash statistic.
- Make sure that your headlights and taillights are in operable condition, that their lenses are clean and that they are all on while driving in the rain.
- Make sure your tires have sufficient tread and are inflated to the manufacturer's specifications. Under inflated tires can easily lead to tire failure and a greater chance of hydroplaning once the rains begin to fall steadily.