Officer Kenny Antonetti
California Highway Patrol
According to the Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (http://1.usa.gov/1MccNdR), we are in for a strong El Nino season for 2016. Historically, this means we are in for a very wet winter season which is predicted to continue well into spring.
Driving in the rain is a fairly commonplace event for Californians, and we are all aware of the increased risks associated with driving on a wet roadway. However, accompanied with heavy rainfall, there is always a chance of mud/rock slides. Based on the report cited above, El Nino is expected to gradually weaken in the spring of 2016, meaning we will likely have several more months of rain. That being said, here are a few Tips from CHiPs regarding driving in inclement weather:
When it is raining or you have limited visibility, turn your headlights on. California Vehicle Code section 24400(b) states in essence when a vehicle is being operated during the times of darkness or inclement weather, the headlights shall be illuminated. “Inclement weather” is defined in section 24400© VC as 1. “A condition that prevents a driver of a motor vehicle from clearly discerning a person or another motor vehicle on the highway from a distance of 1,000 feet” or 2. “A condition requiring the windshield wipers to be in continuous use due to rain, mist, snow, fog, or other precipitation or atmospheric moisture.” If you can’t clearly see 1,000 feet ahead of your location or if your windshield wipers are on, you are mandated to have your headlights activated.
When driving in the rain, keep your speed slow and 100% of your attention focused on your driving. Wet roadways change the coefficient of friction on the roadway and will increase your stopping distance. If evasive maneuvers are required to avoid a collision, driving at a safe speed will afford you more control of your vehicle on the wet roadway and could potentially prevent you from being involved in a collision.
Be very cautious when driving on a wet roadway at night. When oncoming vehicles approach your location with their headlights on, it can greatly diminish your visibility. Keep this in mind when driving and adjust your vehicles speed accordingly. A large, wet boulder in the wet road ahead of you can be difficult to see if you are outdriving your headlights. Ensure your speed is safe given the roadway condition and your visibility.
Stay off the phone. Diverting your attention from your driving for any reason is extremely dangerous, but is even more dangerous during inclement weather. Keep your phone out of your hands and your eyes focused on the road, it’s not worth it.
Remember, by keeping your headlights on during inclement weather, your speed safe and keeping distractions at a minimum, you will greatly decrease your chances of becoming involved in a traffic collision. As always, follow all traffic laws, make sure all occupants in your vehicle are secured properly, never drink and drive, stay off the phone and drive safe.