A rare sight in the Coachella Valley– dark puffy clouds hovering the mountains and dropping buckets of rain down to the valley floor. For a community that sees sunshine on an average of 354 days a year, drivers can be much more prone to committing roadway errors that lead to car accidents.
“If you’re in a situation where your vehicle takes on water, always think of personal safety first,” said Anlleyn Venegas, Senior Public Affair Specialist for The Auto Club.
The US Department reports of the nearly 6 million motor vehicle crashes that occur each year, 21% of them are weather-related. The majority of those weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement meaning extra precautions need to be taken when driving in the rain.
“Do not use cruise control. Driving on slick roads means your tires will have less traction and you should be prepared to adjust accordingly,” said Venegas.
Officials also suggest avoiding tailgating and leaving extra space between yourself and other drivers.
“It is very important to increase your following distance, especially when facing reduced visibility- you and other drivers will likely need more time to react to traffic. This will reduce the need to sudden reaction,” said Venegas.
Less reaction time equals less speed.
“Some tires can lose contact with the road even at 35 mph, so reducing your speed will help you stay in control of the vehicle,” said Venegas.
Even with these precautions, skidding and sliding can still happen – but don’t panic.
“If your vehicle begins to skid, remain calm. Avoid slamming on the breaks because this could throw your vehicle off balance and out of control. Instead look and steer the direction you want your vehicle to go,” said Venegas.
Before extreme weather, or even just a few centimeters of rain hits, car care is necessary.
“Vehicle maintenance is part of safe driving in general. It ensures everything is running smoothly that way you have less to worry about when you need to drive in the rain,” said Venegas.
Venegas says there are three vehicle components drivers need to maintain at all times – windshield wipers, lights, and tires.
“Keep your vision as clear as possible by replacing your wipers every 6 – 12 months,” said Venegas. “Ensure your headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are working properly. And also your tires. Make sure you check them at least once a month and maintain your car’s recommended tire pressure.”
And when possible – avoid driving in the rain altogether.
“Just be sure to always be alert and prepare for wet roads,” said Venegas. “Turn around, don’t drown… do not attempt to drive on a road that is covered in water.