Life-saving and injury prevention advice from Sheriff Curtis Landers:
Our dark and rainy season has arrived. For some people, driving in the rain, especially in the dark, is truly frightening. According to national reports, there are more than 950,000 automobile crashes each year due to wet pavement causing 4,700 deaths and 384,000 injuries.
But being behind the wheel with a rain-splattered windshield in front of you doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Brent Praeter, a nationally recognized driving instructor, offers these tips for driving in a downpour:
1. Think. “Many people drive subconsciously out of habit,” says Praeter. “And when it rains, they often don’t adjust their thinking.” When conditions are less than ideal, drivers need to stay alert and focused on what’s going on around them.
2. Turn on your headlights. It’s the law in all states to turn on headlights when visibility is low and many states also require having the headlights on when the windshield wipers are in use. Note: Oregon does not require motorists to turn on headlights when wipers are used. Praeter says that well-working wipers and relatively new (not threadbare) tires are also must-haves when driving in rain.
3. Beware of hydroplaning. It’s when water on the road begins to build up and your vehicle begins to literally float. It’s easy enough to hydroplane: All you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of more than 35 miles per hour. If you start to hydroplane, let off the accelerator slowly and steer straight until you regain control.
4. Turn off cruise control. Truth is, cruise control on rain or snow-slick surfaces can easily cause you to lose control. You might think it’ll help you stay at one steady speed, but if you hydroplane while you’re in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.
5. Slow down. Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions, says Praeter, “and that means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility.” That’s hardly the environment you’re driving in when it’s raining, so let up on the accelerator and allow more time to get to your destination.
For more information and tips, visit our website at www.lincolncountysheriff.net and Like us on Facebook at Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office – Oregon.