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Check your car for wet-weather-readiness

January 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Whenever there's steady rain or snow, the amount of accidents on Southland freeways goes up. But if you follow a few simple safety tips whenever the skies open up, you can be one of those drivers who does things right.If you surveyed 500 Southern California drivers about driving in the rain, chances are that almost all of them would say that it's all those other drivers who don't know what they're doing.

Yet with accident rates spiking like crazy anytime it rains, somebody's doing something wrong.

For example, it seems that many drivers aren't aware of Section 24400 of the California Vehicle Code, the law that says you have to use headlights when it's dark or whenever you're using windshield-wipers.

Parking lights aren't quite good enough. You have to use the regular low beams. It's not just so you can see, it's so other drivers can see you.

Make sure your taillights are on too, you definitely want drivers behind you to know you're there.

You also need to be able to see what's on the road, so good windshield-wiper blades are very important. The rubber gets baked in the sun all summer and dries out. Fresh blades will wipe properly.

Also, make sure you have plenty of washer fluid. It helps the wipers clean mud and grime away.

Speaking of rubber, your tires need to have sufficient tread to channel away water.

And something many drivers don't think about: fogged-up windows are kind of hard to see out of.

Run your car's defroster at medium to high speed whenever it's raining. It will keep the windows clear by removing moisture from the interior. Your wet clothes and shoes will dry out more quickly as well.

Finally, if you have a vehicle with 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you've got to keep in mind the laws of physics still apply. While 4-wheel drive gives you more traction for accelerating, you still need the same amount of distance to stop.

  • Use your headlights
  • Check wiper blades
  • Check tread on tires
  • Use defroster