Ask the La Habra traffic cop: Don’t forget how to drive in the rain

By Shawn Price

On the rare occasions raindrops fall in Southern California, drivers often reveal how little they seem to know about driving in wet road conditions.

La Habra Police Department Sgt. Jim Tigner sees a lot of Southern California drivers in the rain not following the rules required for inclement weather driving. He offered his advice based on a recent reader question.

Question: What’s the one thing you notice a lot of drivers do or don’t do in the rain?

Sgt. Jim Tigner: I notice a lot of vehicles on the roadway that do not have their headlamps on during the inclement weather.

The California vehicle code requires our lights to be on when it’s raining or in other conditions that reduce visibility to 1,000 feet or less.

If it’s raining and our wipers are on, our headlamps should be on, too! If not, you increase your chance of getting into a collision or a costly citation. Neither one is good! As the California Department of Transportation says, “Wipers On! Headlights On!”

Drivers should also increase their following distance. Very often we see cars that are way too close to the car ahead of them.

A good general rule is to have a car length’s distance for every 10 miles per hour (mph) you are traveling. You should probably increase this in inclement weather. So, if you’re going 40 mph, you should have at least four car lengths between the front of your car and the back of the car ahead of you. At 40 mph, you’re traveling about 60 feet per second and at 70 mph, you’re traveling about 105 feet per second! Many rear-end collisions can be avoided if you are attentive and have an appropriate following distance so you can safely react.

The first few hours of any rain is the most dangerous. The combination of water and oil on the roadways make them slick and therefore increase the distance needed to stop.

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