Carnage in California: why can’t we drive in the rain?
Posted by lapearce on December 8, 2009
This happens about this time every year: Southern California gets its first rain in about eight months, the dirty roads get incredibly slick, and car-capades take effect as people slide around, apparently having forgotten how to drive on wet grounds since it has been so long since the last storm. Monday, Orange County had nearly 500 calls about crashes, compared to less than 150 last Monday when it was dry. Luckily, no one was killed.
California drivers do deserve some slack when it comes to wet weather driving. First, because it rains so little each rain is like the first rain, and our roads are a lot slicker because a lot more oil has been allowed to accumulate in the road. Second: we often times get a lot of rain fairly quickly and our roads can’t cope with it, which leads to flooding and causes more crashes. Third: because it rains only a handful of times a year many of us don’t bother changing tires for winter, many of us will run on summer tires all year long– maybe not the smartest thing to do, but we do it.
All our excuses can’t forgive the truth of the So Cal roads in December. How I see is that there are two fundamental problem drivers out there: the drivers who drive as if it is dry, and the drivers who drive as if it is icy. When the reckless meet the over cautious you get crashes. Throw into the mix the average driver who has increased caution but not to the point where they are a moving road block and well… the whole thing is a mess.
People need to realize that while rain isn’t the end of the world, they need to adjust their driving for the weather. Whoa your speed down, but also important: leave more space between you and the cars around you and be observant. Traction and visibility are often impaired in the rain. This reduces your chances of seeing danger (adding to reaction time) but you can’t make up that lost time because guess what — your car won’t stop as far or won’t grip to the payment. Que the fender benders and spin outs. Instead of having this outcome, just leave more room! Give yourself a lot more space than you would in dry weather and also be watchful, for the people driving as if it wasn’t raining, the people driving as if the world is ending, and the people who are distracted or aren’t leaving the space they need. If everyone just slowed down a little, rainy roads would be a much better place.
Don’t get me started on So Cal drivers in the snow.
Collage of Car Carnage:
Ferrari spun out:
Driver was seriously injured:
Hey truck, you’re not supposed to be on your roof:
Car was hit by an SUV, causing it to spin into the pole: