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December 31, 2014 (San Diego)--The old song says, “It never rains in Southern California.”

But when we do get rain or snow, like this week’s storm has brought, driving can be an adventure.

To make sure it doesn’t become a mis-adventure, here are some handy driving tips from San Diego County’s Department of Public Works , or  DPW,  that will help make your rainy drive safer.

  1. SLOW DOWN to avoid getting into an accident. When it rains in San Diego County, the California Highway Patrol routinely responds to more accidents than when it’s dry. Remember, it takes longer to stop or adjust when roads are wet. Give yourself a little extra time for your travels.
  2. Turn on your headlights to comply with the law — and to see better and make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  3. Try to drive toward the middle lanes as water tends to gather in outside lanes.
  4. BEFORE it rains, check your windshield wipers and replace them as need so they actually keep the rain off your windshield and make sure you can see.
  5. Avoid driving through deep water and test your brakes if you pass through a water hazard to make sure they’ve dried out and are working properly.
  6. Give the cars in front of you extra distance. The spray from their vehicles — particularly from larger trucks and buses — can block your vision. And giving extra space to the guy in front of you also gives you more time to brake or adjust if you need to.
  7. If you start to hydroplane (to skid because your tires lose traction with the wet road), remember: keep calm, don’t panic. The Department of Motor Vehicles says don’t over-steer; don’t stomp on the brakes. Keep the steering wheel straight and take your foot off the accelerator so your vehicle can slow down slowly.
  8. In heavy rains, never cross a flooded roadway if you cannot see the pavement. Even a few inches of water running at the right velocity can sweep a car, and even a truck, and its occupants off the roadway and downstream.
  9. Defog your windows for better visibility. Rain can cause windows to fog up.
  10. Stay focused. Remember, it’s illegal, and dangerous, to try to text or use a hand-held cell phone when you’re driving!

If you have to travel to where you’ll have to drive in snow, keep up with the weather reports to see if tire chains are required. Be aware conditions on the ground can change rapidly. Also keep some extra safety equipment in your car. Watch out for DPW crews and equipment; don’t stop and park in the roadway.

Chain controls, road condition updates, and other safety advisories are posted on DPW’s Facebook and Twitter sites.


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Mountain Trip

I just returned from Mount Laguna. It was a great trip, there was snow falling from Harbison Canyon all the way to the top of the mountain and back. Me and my son were well prepared with the right clothes and boots, snow tires on my 4x4 truck and tire chains if needed. We went up the hill at dawn, the only vehicle on the road. Four wheel drive all the way. Bridges are especially dangerous because the road will be colder, any melted water will freeze and you can't see that it's ice. I lost traction on ice, scary. Don't go if you aren't prepared. The store was open but both restaurants were closed.Too bad. We used to have a hot coffee or cocoa sitting by the large fireplace. When the clouds cleared we could see snow all the way to the desert floor. The temperature didn't go above 20 degrees.