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Rain, and Risk, In Southern California

Rain has come to Southern California, and with it an greatly increased risk of being involved in a car crash. Already significant congestion is piling up the freeways, with numerous fender benders and at least one major semi truck accident on the 15. 

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While residents of the Mid-West and East Coast may laugh at our comparatively minor weather events, the rarity of rain here in Southern California actually brings with it some compounding factors for drivers. All roads contain an amount of oil from the cars that travel them, oil that with frequent rain never builds up to the point of becoming an issue. With our dry climate, the first major rain event in a while can bring up quite a bit of oil from the road surface, making it even more slick than just water.

Another issue is one commonly remarked upon by California drivers: in heavy rain, you often see freeway drivers going 80 mph (dangerous) or 40 mph (also dangerous), often right next to each other. This disparity of speed can have fatal consequences.

With the current rain event forecasted to stay with us through the weekend, here are some important tips to protect yourself & your family on the roads.


Visibility:

  • Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you. Many states require the use of headlights during rain, even in broad daylight.
  • Give other vehicles more space. Add 1-2 extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic.

Hydroplaning:


In addition to the potentially poor visibility that accompanies most heavy rain, drivers should be ready to protect themselves against hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is traveling too fast in heavy rain conditions, causing the vehicle's tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult and could even lead to losing control of your vehicle. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain.

  • Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.
  • Insure your tires are properly inflated, and are new enough to have proper treads. A properly inflated tire (you can read the suggested PSI on the sidewall) is essential to good traction along a wet roadway.

Despite being vigilant, you might still land in a hospital after an auto accident that resulted from another person's negligence. If this happens, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit to pursue recovery of financial losses and emotional damages. Navigation of such a claim may be easier with the support and guidance of experienced legal counsel.

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