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How To Drive Safely During the California Winter

In Southern California, winter driving conditions usually mean rain. The state gets 90% of its annual precipitation from October through April, and half of California’s rainfall occurs from December through February. According to Mercury Insurance, nearly half (46%) of all weather-related car accidents are the result of rainfall. As such, we wanted to share some tips for driving in the rain.

Tip #1 – Slow Down

Vehicles are harder to handle in the rain, and speed can interfere with your tires’ traction. Slow down when the roads are wet and exercise extra caution. Far too many accidents occur because drivers fail to account for weather conditions.

Tip #2 – Beware the First Rain of the Season

When rain follows hot, dry spells, engine oil and grease are released and turn the road into an “automotive Slip ‘N Slide.” You should always be careful when driving in the rain but take additional care during the first rain of the season or any storm that occurs when it has not rained for a while.

Tip #3 – Avoid Standing Water

Puddles may not seem dangerous, but they can be deeper than they look and cover potholes and other hazards on the road. Additionally, driving through a puddle can reduce the effectiveness of your vehicle’s brakes and cause a splash, obscuring other drivers’ visibility. Standing water on the roadway can also cause you to hydroplane and lose control, so avoid driving through it whenever possible.
Sometimes, other vehicles displace standing water on the road and leave tracks. Driving in the tracks of the car in front of you is one strategy to avoid standing water, but make sure you’re not following too closely.

Tip #4 – Increase Your Following Distance

Tailgating is always dangerous, but it is an especially bad idea when there’s water on the road. Give the vehicles ahead of you plenty of space and start braking as soon as you see taillights or notice traffic is slowing down. Rainstorms can mean wet brakes, slick roads, and reduced visibility, so you want to give yourself extra time to stop and avoid slamming on the brakes and causing a skid, spin, or hydroplane.

Tip #5 – Know How to Handle a Hydroplane

If your car begins to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, hold the wheel straight until your vehicle gains traction, and brake gently if needed. Do not brake hard or turn your steering wheel abruptly, as this could cause a skid or spin. In the event of a skid, keep both hands on the wheel and your foot off the gas, steering into the direction of the skid until you regain control.

Tip #6 – Stay Focused

You need all the control you can get when driving in the rain. This means you should have both hands on the steering wheel at all times – and that you should not use cruise control, which can cause you to accelerate when hydroplaning and interfere with your attentiveness.
Put your phone and all other distractions away when driving, especially in the rain. Cell phone use is illegal in many states, and texting and driving can quickly cause a fatal mistake.

Tip #7 – Maximize Visibility

If you cannot see well, you cannot drive safely. Keep your windshield wipers in good condition and get them checked before California’s rainy season. Turn on your wipers when the roads are wet and use your front and rear defrosters to defog your windows and maximize visibility. If it starts raining so heavily you cannot see clearly, pull over to a safe spot and wait for the storm to pass.

Tip # 8 – Prepare for the Worst

Even if you keep safety in mind during California’s rainy winters, other drivers may not. Keep a list of numbers you may want to call.

Rain and Out-of-State Travel Increases California Car Accidents

The winter months can make driving in Southern California particularly difficult. With rainy weather and out-of-state holiday travel, the roads can easily become slick, crowded, and hazardous. At YD Injury Law, we wanted to remind you to take extra care behind the wheel this holiday season and give you insights into why accidents increase in the winter.

Slippery Roadways

More than half of California’s annual precipitation arrives in the 3-month period from December to February, and 90% of the state’s annual rainfall occurs between October 1 and April 30. According to USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism: “Drivers are 80% more likely to have an accident in the rain than during normal, clear conditions,” and wet weather leads to a 140% increase in the number of accidents on the road.
The most dangerous time to drive in wet conditions on California roadways is immediately after the first rain when the rain mixes with grease from cars and makes the asphalt slick. Additionally, many drivers fail to slow down to account for wet and rainy weather conditions, which causes more accidents outside of rush hour.

Holiday Travel

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reveals that “the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year,” and about 91% of long-distance holiday travel occurs by car. These numbers indicate a more crowded roadway and a higher risk of car accidents for everyone on the road. In 2019, more than 104 million Americans took road trips and traffic congestion peaked on December 26th and 27th.
Fortunately, the “uptick in car crashes resulting in serious injury and death” that occurs during the holiday season can be prevented. The National Safety Council recommends practicing defensive driving, buckling up, and designating a sober driver for holiday parties, as well as getting plenty of sleep before road trips and driving attentively without distractions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has “Tips for Driving Safely This Holiday Season,” that drivers of all ages can utilize at any time of year.

Factors Beyond Your Control

Even if you drive safely and follow all the tips and tricks on this page, weather and negligent drivers are 2 factors of winter driving you cannot control. If you are harmed because someone fails to adjust to weather conditions, drive sober, or pay attention to their surroundings, you may be entitled to compensation.
Attorney Yasmine Djawadian, founder of YD Injury Law, can help you understand your rights and legal options after a winter crash or holiday car accident.
When you need the best San Diego Personal Injury Attorney contact the Law Offices of Yasmine Djawadian.
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The testimonials shall not be construed as a prediction of a case outcome.

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