Friday, October 19, 2012

Safe Driving Tips As Winter Returns to California

For at least the past six months, Californians have enjoyed some of the best weather in the nation. Few clouds beyond the stray puffball dotted the sky. Rain was hardly a factor in road conditions, barely dampening the pavement when it did manage to roll through. Perhaps some fog lingered in the San Francisco Bay, but the majority of Californians enjoyed sun with their windows rolled down and wind cooling their cars.

It's mid-October and the changing seasons finally caught up to the West Coast. This week, a Pacific storm gave southern California a good soak as temperatures dropped statewide. With the first big rain come ultra-slick roads and an adjustment period to proper driving under the new weather conditions. The cold season in California stratifies the state as the coastal regions tend to stay more temperate while snow and rain begin to dominate inland and mountainous areas.

Rule number one in less than ideal weather conditions is to slow down. Californians, especially those in desert conditions most of the year, often forget the dangers of speeding on a slick surface. It doesn't matter how confident you feel, the fact is that your braking distance automatically increases and cornering becomes much more difficult. Tailgating and weaving in traffic become recipes for disaster. The worse the weather, the slower you should drive. Give yourself extra time to account for the added traffic.

Those who frequent the Central Valley from resident to road-tripper may be familiar with tule fog that begins appearing in the fall months. This isn't like the famous fog of San Francisco; this is a low-lying thick cloud of precipitation that can be very dangerous to drivers. One of the largest pile-ups in the United States with over 100 cars involved was on Interstate 5 in the Central Valley in tule fog. It's no patchy fog- it's like a wall of mist. Slow down and activate your fog lights. Be on the lookout for stopped cars.

No matter the specific condition, adjust your vehicle controls to adapt for decreased visibility and slippery conditions. Use your auto-defrost and turn the heater on. Sometimes cracking a window can help expedite the process of defogging your windshield. Use your windshield wiper as needed, even in misty conditions. If you become unsure of the lanes despite your best efforts to clear your windows, look for the reflective dots in the road as a guide.

With these preventative measures, you should be able to significantly reduce your chance of a car accident in poor weather. Unfortunately, just because you are avoiding becoming the cause of accident doesn't mean every other driver out there has the same idea. In the event of accident, speak with a personal injury lawyer to help you with the post-accident proceedings.

If you are in a car accident, then don't wait to seek legal help. Even if you aren't at fault and the accident seems simple, having an experienced lawyer on your side can be the difference maker.

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