Meteorologists report that Southern California will get more rainfall this weekend than it has in the past two years – welcome news for the drought, but concerning for motorists.
California's motorists notoriously have a tough time driving in the rain. Because it rains so infrequently in this part of California, many drivers do not have the experience to handle wet roads, not to mention that the first rain to hit dry ground is often the most dangerous.
What to Do if You Hydroplane
One of the most common causes of car accidents in the rain is hydroplaning. This happens when a layer of water separates a tire's tread from the road. Hydroplaning essentially causes a driver to lose control of their vehicle. In many cases, hydroplaning can be contained to avoid a serious accident when handled properly. Here's what experts suggest:
- Don't overcompensate while steering. Hydroplaning can be shocking, but try to avoid panicking. Rather than overcompensating for the loss of control by jerking your steering wheel to the left or right, keep your steering wheel steady and gently direct your vehicle to a place where you can safely come to a stop.
- Take your foot off the gas, but do it slowly. Any drastic or sudden maneuvers can make hydroplaning worse.
- Pump your brakes, don't slam on them (if you don't have anti-lock brakes).
Equipping Your Car for Safe Travel in Rain
You may be able to prevent hydroplaning and other rain-induced accidents altogether by equipping your vehicle properly. Here are some tips for equipping your car for safe travel in the rain.
- Make sure your tread isn't low. The less tread your tires have, the less grip your tires will have on the road, and the greater your chances of hydroplaning.
- Check your windshield wipers. Because it rains so infrequently in Southern California, many motorists may not even remember the last time they used their windshield wipers. Before you go out to drive this weekend, test your windshield wipers.
- Know your brakes. A large part of preventing a hydroplaning accident is knowing how to use your brakes. If your vehicle does have anti-lock brakes, then do not pump the brakes when hydroplaning. If your vehicle does not, then you should absolutely pump the brakes in the event of a hydroplane.