As Southern California experiences frequent storms and severe rain this winter, residents have seen more road closures because of flooding.
California Highway Patrol Officer Rafael Reynoso offered safe driving tips for motorists out in the rain experiencing dangerous weather conditions.
With more rain in the upcoming forecast, Reynoso recommends motorists ensure their car is prepared for the rain by checking that their wipers are working and in good condition, that their tires have enough tread and their brakes are working well.
“Just the basic maintenance of your vehicle, just have it ready for rainy weather,” Reynoso said.
“You also want to plan ahead; you want to check roadway conditions, check your route to see if there’s any floods, road closures, incidents on the route you’re planning to take,” Reynoso continued.
Using the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) website, quickmap.dot.ca.gov, Reynoso recommends drivers enter their route to check that there are no road closures or dangerous conditions.
“When you are going to drive, you want to first slow down,” Reynoso said. “The faster you go, the higher chances you have of hydroplaning, losing control of the vehicle.”
Harking back to preparedness, Reynoso recommends giving oneself extra time for one’s route to ensure safe driving.
“You don’t want to hurry, because if you’re running late, you’re going to drive a little bit faster than you should,” Reynoso said.
“When you are driving, you want to leave extra space between the vehicle in front of you and your vehicle in case something would happen. You have that space to slow down and avoid whatever hazard is ahead of you,” Reynoso continued.
Reynoso also warned that many motorists do not realize that they must always have their headlights on when using windshield wipers.
“That’s to increase your visibility to other motorists out there, so if your wipers are on, your headlights must be on as well,” Reynoso said, adding: “This is another great reason why you shouldn’t be distracted on your phone, as well.”
When driving in the rain, Reynoso emphasized that it’s especially important to put all your focus on the road and remove any distractions that might pull your attention from the road and the weather ahead.
When coming across a puddle in the road with an undeterminable depth, Reynoso warned, “Don’t risk it,” advising to drive around it if possible or turn around.
“You don’t know how deep it is. It could be shallow; it could be very deep. There could be a sinkhole under there, for all you know. You don’t know, so don’t risk it, Reynoso said, adding: “Go around it or do not enter it at all if you can’t go around it. It doesn’t take much to stall out in certain vehicles.”
If a vehicle stalls out, Reynoso advised staying in the car unless the water is very deep or moving fast.
“You want to stay in your vehicle and call 911 and wait for help to arrive,” Reynoso said.
Above all, while driving in these winter storms, Reynoso advised staying patient and courteous “because it is dangerous, and we all have to work together to get to our destination safely.”