Wet Driving

Since returning from my trip earlier in the week, Texas has been wet.  When Texas or any place is wet for long due to constant rains (the “flash flood” type rains have a slightly different set of rules than the standard rain driving rules), there are a set of rules common sense drivers should follow.

For your benefit…

  • Hydroplaning:  I have found the far right lane tends to be the lane where the water congregates.  What is hydroplaning?  It is water deep enough that when you try and drive through it it slows you down significantly.  And, if the water is deep enough, it limits your ability to control the car.  (The really bad side of this is usually found under bridges or when rivers/streams overflow.)  While this may be an issue with limited impact to other drivers, if you hit the water just right and shoot up a bunch of water, it may cause other drivers to need their…..
  • Windshield Wipers:  While it seems obvious these are necessary when it is wet out, the speed of the wipers can contribute greatly to your visibility.  IF someone hits a big puddle at a high rate of speed and you just happen to be next to them when the “spray” flies onto your windshield, the wipers help you to get oriented and recover quickly from the blinding spray.
  • Stopping Distance:  IF you are blinded by a windshield flood and you don’t have a proper stopping distance, you will wish you had one.  When I went thru drivers ed MANY years ago, they taught you should have a 3 second stopping distance.  (Watch the car ahead of you pass a certain landmark, light pole or whatever.  Count the seconds until you pass it.  It should be over 3 seconds for good weather and more when wet.) While my competitive nature sometimes modifies this rule, it is still good to have a baseline.  When cars are doing lots of weaving, I especially like to modify the rule to keep them from jumping into my lane.

For the benefit of others….and sometimes you

  • Headlights:  Can you say “pet peeve”?  As the rains poured down today, I didn’t see lots of cars without headlights, but they were still there.  (When the rain is lighter, the ratio or headlight-less drivers seems to be higher.)  As I look in the rear-view mirror, I am not blind–I see most everything.  But, if the headlights are on, I see you more quickly.  While lane jumping is not a great idea when it is wet out and the reaction time of other drivers might be slower, a quick glance that does not immediately reveal a car lurking on your tail may lead to a lane change with a conversation punctuated by horns. When in doubt, headlights are good.
  • Turn Signals:  I did fail ALL of my mind reading classes in college.  And, I don’t think they offered any mind reading classes in driver’s ed.  (An aside….I was taught the I-P-D-E method of driving.  Identify the problem.  Predict what they will do.  Decide what you will do.  Execute your plan.  I guess there is a bit of clairvoyance in there…at least an anticipation.) Turn signals are just a bit of information that allows the other drivers to go, “Oh, he is switching lanes.  How does that affect my safe little cocoon I have tried to create for myself out on the road?  (Cocoon is only used to express a place of comfort.  It has nothing to do with butterflies or any mode of  transportation other than driving.)

In conclusion, when driving on the road there is a “handshake” agreement made with all of the other drivers out there.  While some days the handshake may be like a wet dish rag and other days it may be a firm “Vote for me” type  handshake, the road is not your private domain.  It is a shared resource for all taxpaying citizens (and non-paying) to enjoy. (Or, if you hate commutes, not enjoy.  But, it is still there for you.)  It is a necessary evil in places where mass transit it not readily available.  So, if it not a big problem next time it rains, just keeps the lights on for me.

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