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Posts Tagged ‘stopping distance’

I’m an Oregonian, through and through.  100% born and raised here, I left for three months to go to South Florida and quickly returned.  It rains here 90% of the time, but that is also what makes this state so beautiful and green and clean.  Recently I went to the bank, I met a sweet girl who told me she had moved here from California when I told her I was from here she said “whoa! you are a rare one.”  See everyone in Oregon generally happen to be from somewhere else.  In fact my first question when meeting new people is “So where are you from?”   When I was growing up, everyone was from here and if you were from somewhere else you were automatically popular because, well everyone was from Oregon.  I’m not exactly sure when it changed, but in the 90’s Oregon seemed to be this mecca for Californians.  Things here changed, housing went sky-high because real estate in CA was much higher than Oregon.  People came up here, gobbled up houses and the rest of us were left thinking if we could actually afford to buy a home where we grew up.  Attitudes changed, Oregon is friendly, not saying that CA isn’t… I am sure there are a whole bunch of nice and sweet people there, but as a majority that isn’t what “we” were shown.  You walk down the street and say hi or good morning to a person, that changed to the impersonal, look straight a head and don’t acknowledge anyone else around you.  Then the drivers, oh the drivers!  Again the normal courteous drivers here would let you in when your blinker was on, they would give you the nice “hey thanks!” wave when you let them in.  It went from that to cutting you off, not letting you in to traffic in fact even speeding up so you can’t get into traffic.  The “hey thanks” waves turned into another finger gesture.  Now let me clarify, not everyone came here is from California, in fact I know A LOT of New Yorkers, Colorado, Florida, Texas… I mean Oregon has turned into a mixing pot of people.  This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that many of these people aren’t use to the rain, and it rains here a lot.  I’ve been hearing that most Oregonians are vitamin D deficient.  From about now (sometimes earlier) until April or May it is rare to see the sun, our sun comes in the liquid form.

Driving to work this morning I was irritated at the driving going on.  It’s raining here, surprise surprise.  As we come around a corner and start hydroplaning the car in front of me slams on their brakes!  Luckily I’ve been driving here for a while and I know what to do in situations like this, let off the gas and lightly tap the breaks.  It just got me thinking and I wanted to write a “how to drive in the rain” blog.  Just in case someone decided to sue me or something crazy, I’m gonna say that I’m not an expert and don’t follow my advice like I am.  If you get in an accident it’s your fault and not mine and I don’t have any money anyway so not worth your time to sue me. 😉

First off, when it’s raining you HAVE to give yourself stopping distance.  There are so many factors here, like the first rain of the season, the big and bad first rain, will ALWAYS have oil and car fluids on the road.  This means it will ALWAYS be slick, and much more than you think.  There is also the fact that leaves start to fall and they can make it really hard to stop when it’s slick, go slow and slow down slowly.  You are not going to want to slam on your breaks in any of these situations.  The last point here would be that most people are not aware of how to drive safely in the rain, don’t trust that they do give yourself stopping distance.  For whatever reason, it seems like every time I leave myself stopping distance between me and the car in front of me that gives someone the “ok” to cut in there and get in front of me.  How frustrating! Can anyone explain why this is happening so frequently these days?  Are they not teaching drivers ed? Or is everyone just so self focused that they don’t notice or don’t care?  Ok back on track…

When you do start to hydroplane, the best thing I’ve found is to take your foot off the gas and don’t apply the break.  Ride it out.  Most of the hydroplaning will happen because the water from the rain gets trapped in the ruts in the road.  My situation this morning was I was coming around a corner and the water was running down the hill and thus instant hydroplaning.  The person in front of me did the no-no, they hit the breaks and hard.  I know it is a scary moment when your tires are floating on water, but just like in snow and ice the fast jerks and reactions will generally only cause you problems rather than get you safely through it.  I also tend to have a good grip on the wheel, I’ve heard it’s like ice though were you need a slight grip, but I generally have both hands on the wheel in case I need more control.

It does rain hard and sometimes it is hard to see, if it gets too bad and you can’t see then pull over until you feel safe.  If not then put your wipers on as fast as they can go, and don’t look at the rain,  find something outside to focus on.  Focusing on the rain on your windshield will only confuse your brain, seriously focus on the car ahead of you.  It is like watching the road as you drive, it can make you dizzy.

Look two and even three cars ahead of  you.  Break lights are an amazing invention.  You don’t have to wait for the person in front of you to use theirs either!  One of the best things you can do to stay prepared when driving is to look for break lights on the cars ahead of the one that is in front of you.  Don’t assume the person in front of you knows how to drive well, be proactive.  I almost always look a few cars ahead, if there is a slow semi truck, if they are breaking etc.  You will have much more time to react this way, especially if the person in front of you doesn’t.

If you are just terrified, if you aren’t that great in driving in it yet… or whatever it might be, please get in the slow lane.  That means the furthest right you can go.  Some of us do know how to drive in the rain and wanting to go faster than you.  It is after all only rain.  Don’t go 25 miles an hour on the freeway, in the left lane.  PLEASE!

In case you forgot, a friendly wave to say thanks to someone who lets you in to traffic is really a nice thing.  Leaving stopping distance for yourself isn’t an invitation for someone else to come in and take it, seriously be courteous! You know the whole “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself” thing?  It works in so many different situations, even driving!  It could be such a more pleasant experience for everyone if we did remember that maybe that’s a mom ahead of you trying to get home to her kids, or maybe that elderly person going too slow is just trying to make it to a doctor’s appointment that no one was able to drive them to.

However if you move to a place where it rains 90% of the year than please, for everyone’s good… learn to drive in the rain.  These are not the dry streets of California, and there is no reason to go 25 miles an hour on the freeway when it rains.  Thanks from a Oregonian girl. 🙂

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