It has come to my attention that Californians seem to develop collective amnesia every year. Every year strange droplets of water fall from the sky, and instead of thinking, "oh, its raining," the average Californian seems to think, "OMGWTFBBQ!! Its Armmageddon! Stormwatch 2010!!!!" This is not in anyway meant to minimize the people who live in the mountains or near cliffs who's homes are actually threatened by heavy rain and mudslides. However, this does not apply to 80% of Southern Californians who live and work in the urban sprawl that is the LA Basin and Orange County, and who still seem to be utterly incapacitated by water falling from the sky.
Here's the thing, kids. It rains in California. In fact, it rains a LOT in California from about November until about the middle of June. But here's what I mean by a lot... it'll rain for five days straight, everything will get flooded and people will complain about how awful it is... and then it stops for three to five weeks, and people forget that it ever rained.
The unfortunate thing about this perpensity towards selective memory is that since they don't remeber that it rains, they also don't remember how to drive in the rain. It seems more fender-benders and morbid accidents happen in the five total weeks it rains in California than any other time of the year. So as a Public Service, I would like to suggest the following to anyone driving in inclement weather:
1) SLOW DOWN - Visibility is low, and wet roads make for crappy traction. It might add 5 minutes to your commute, but isn't it better to get up 5 minutes earlier than to get to work an hour later because you hit someone, or worse... to simply not get to work?
2) Increase Following Distance - Because the idiots in front of you are probably driving too fast. They didn't slow down, like they should, so they won't see that stopped car, that bump in the road, that animal darting across the freeway; until its too late. By adding a few more car lenghts in front of you, you give yourself a few more seconds of reaction time, so that two-car pile-up won't turn into a three-car pile-up.
3) Stay Focused - I'm aware that the "no texting while driving" law is the most abused traffic regulation since the speed law, but seriously. Your friends would much rather wait to hear from you when you're home safe than go visit you in the hospital.
4) Pump the Brakes - Okay. So you didn't listen to 1, 2 and 3, and you were going 70mph following someone really closely and decided to text your roommate. FOR SHAME! Now that you're trying frantically to stop in time, don't just slam on the brakes, because eventually your wheels will lock and your car will keep moving forward due to the slick roads and your car's own inertia and forward momentum. Pump your breaks once per second. Its just as affective and will keep your anti-lock breaks from getting you into trouble.
5) Turn your wheel - If you begin to skid out of control, or hydroplan, turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is moving. This will get your front tires aligned with your momentum and give you some control over what direction you're headed.
Alright, that's about all the bile I have for now. Until next time, drive safe and stay warm!