July 2016

Rain Danger

Tips for driving safely in wet weather

BYValerie Vinyard
With the monsoon rains passing through Arizona, it’s important for motorists to know driving in the rain poses more of a threat than just a longer commute. In fact, more than 5,000 crashes occurred in 2015 due to rain in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
 
Because Arizona gets rain so infrequently, oil residue builds up on its roadways, making the first 15 minutes of a rainstorm especially slick. Rain also decreases visibility, and drivers can lose control of a vehicle while driving through even a few inches of water. AAA safety experts recommend seven tips when driving in the rain.
 
1. Slow Down
A car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet pavement, so allow a space cushion of at least four to five seconds between vehicles so you have time to respond.

2. Control Cruising
Don’t use cruise control in inclement weather. Your vehicle’s computer doesn’t know it’s not a perfectly dry day and will accelerate accordingly, possibly sending you into a skid.

3. Pull Over
If conditions prevent you from seeing the roadway, pull over to the right side of the road and turn off all your lights and remain buckled. Other drivers are more likely to follow your lights, thinking you are still driving, and then crash into you.

4. Be Smart
Heed signs that instruct drivers not to enter washes or other areas while flooded. Drivers who get stuck could be charged under the Stupid Motorist Law, which requires drivers to pay potentially thousands for their rescue.

5. Skid Recovery
If your vehicle begins to skid, continue to look and steer where you want the vehicle to go. Do not slam on the brakes, as that will exacerbate the skid.

6. Equip Yourself
Make sure the parts on your vehicle are in working order. Inflate your tires to the proper PSI and check to see if they have adequate tread. It’s also a good idea to replace windshield wipers before heading out in the rain because Arizona’s extreme temperatures break down the rubber and contribute to cracking.

7. Avoid Distractions
Motorists are always advised to avoid eating, drinking, cell phone use, texting, taking photos or videos, or applying makeup while driving, but especially in rain. If it’s necessary to engage in these activities, pull over and stop in a safe place.
VALERIE VINYARD is a AAA Arizona public affairs specialist.
Remember Your Maintenance
Get your vehicle monsoon ready by visiting your local AAA Owned and Operated Auto Repair shop. Visit AAA.com/repair for more information.
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