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According to the Federal Highway Administration, Nearly one-quarter of weather-related vehicle crashes occur in bad weather like rain, snow, winds, slushy or icy pavement, resulting on average in 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually. The California Highway Patrol reported that in 2011, more than 8,615 people were killed or injured in California in crashes involving rain, snow, and fog.
Anyone who has driven on wet roads knows you need to take extra care to avoid trouble. That means slowing down to meet conditions, looking out for potholes and black ice, and understanding that not only do oil and water not mix, but that it is ideal for causing hydroplaning. Of course, the biggest road hazard during a rain or snow storm is the driver who doesn’t know or doesn’t care about safety.
On wet pavement, a car needs two to three times more stopping distance than dry. Add ice to the equation and multiply that figure a bit more. Extra distance provides a buffer zone in case of skids – you or the vehicle in front of you. If the car skids and control is lost, do not slam on the brakes. Instead apply the brakes with a steady, light pressure. DO NOT pump the brakes on ABS-equipped vehicles. Remember to steer in the direction the car is sliding.
One precaution you can take now to help prevent skidding later is check your tires. Driving with moderate tread or bald tires on a slippery surface is a major factor in skidding. In wet conditions, it’s advised that tires should have at least 6/32nd of an inch tread depth at any two adjacent grooves. Driving on tires that are over inflated or under inflated is also extremely dangerous on wet pavement. Also, something people forget about until they need them are windshield wipers. Check them while the sun is shining to be sure they are in working order when it’s not.
Finally, be sure to turn on your headlights if it is raining or snowing, or even if it has temporarily stopped. Turning on your lights takes a few seconds and will help you stay more visible to other drivers. Besides that, it’s California state law.