AAA Reminds Motorists: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

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A powerful storm is expected to bring heavy rain, gusty winds and threats of flooding to our region today. The rain is expected to be the heaviest this afternoon, complicating this evening’s commute. AAA is urging drivers to plan ahead and use caution while traveling during the evening commute and into the night.

“Motorists view rain storms as more of an inconvenience than a hazard,” said Jana Tidwell, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As a result, drivers tend to be less cautious than they should be. The most important steps to take when driving in wet weather are to buckle up, slow down, and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1 million traffic crashes occur on wet pavement each year, resulting in more than 350,000 injuries and almost 4,500 fatalities. In order to avoid dangerous situations, AAA encourages drivers to brush up on their wet-weather driving techniques.

Wet Weather Driving Tips:

• Never drive through standing water – TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN -Standing water can be deceiving and motorists should avoid it. No matter how shallow it may appear, water may be hiding downed power lines, may be deeper than it appears, or have significant force from flooding, etc. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and potentially stall your engine.

• Slow down – Drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle when roads are wet.
• Increase following distance – This is even more important when driving near vans, recreational vehicles and cars pulling trailers that may be adversely affected by the wind.

• Avoid Cruise Control -Using cruise control in wet conditions increases the chances of losing vehicle control. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by easing off the accelerator. This cannot happen when cruise control is on.

• Break early – Breaking early, but not hard, will allow the time needed to slow the car.
• Drive with greater caution and alertness – The key to driving safely in rainy weather is to concentrate on every aspect of driving. Avoiding distractions is essential.

• Check your wipers – Before leaving the house, make sure your windshield wipers are working properly.

• Watch for hydroplaning – No car is immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces, including four-wheel drive vehicles. Even if brakes work under normal conditions that doesn’t mean they will react the same on slippery roads where tires roll with less traction.

• If your vehicle stalls or is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

“Drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles during rainy conditions,” Tidwell added. “Roadways are the most dangerous during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour as existing oil and debris first rise to the road’s surface, then wash away. Knowing how to handle poor traction reduces the potential for hydroplaning, skidding or sliding off the road.”

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