Public Safety

10 Tips to Help Make Your Rainy Drive Safer

The old song says, “It never rains in Southern California.” Which is exactly why when it does rain, or snow — like it’s supposed to in the next couple of days — driving can be an adventure.

But it doesn’t have to be a mis-adventure. Here are some handy driving tips from San Diego County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) road division that will help make your rainy drive safer.

  1. SLOW DOWN to avoid getting into an accident. When it rains in San Diego County, the California Highway Patrol routinely responds to more accidents than when it’s dry. Remember, it takes longer to stop or adjust when roads are wet. Give yourself a little extra time for your travels.
  2. Turn on your headlights to comply with the law — and to see better and make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  3. Try to drive toward the middle lanes as water tends to gather in outside lanes.
  4. BEFORE it rains, check your windshield wipers and replace them as needed so they actually keep the rain off your windshield and make sure you can see.
  5. Avoid driving through deep water and test your brakes if you pass through a water hazard to make sure they’ve dried out and are working properly.
  6. Give the cars in front of you extra distance. The spray from their vehicles — particularly from larger trucks and buses — can block your vision. And giving extra space to the guy in front of you also gives you more time to brake or adjust if you need to.
  7. If you start to hydroplane (to skid because your tires lose traction with the wet road), remember: keep calm, don’t panic. The Department of Motor Vehicles says don’t over-steer; don’t stomp on the brakes. Keep the steering wheel straight and take your foot off the accelerator so your vehicle can slow down slowly.
  8. In heavy rains, never cross a flooded roadway if you cannot see the pavement. Even a few inches of water running at the right velocity can sweep a car, and even a truck, and its occupants off the roadway and downstream.
  9. Defog your windows for better visibility. Rain can cause windows to fog up.
  10. Stay focused. Remember, it’s illegal, and dangerous, to try to text or use a hand-held cell phone when you’re driving!

If you have to travel to where you’ll have to drive in snow, keep up with the weather reports to see if tire chains are required. Be aware conditions on the ground can change rapidly. Also keep some extra safety equipment in your car. Watch out for DPW crews and equipment; don’t stop and park in the roadway.

DPW’s road division maintains nearly 2,000 miles of roads in the county. And its road crews work around the clock to keep roads and motorists safe when bad weather strikes.

Several areas in the county are prone to roadway flooding. The three most frequent are the dips at Quarry Road, Sandia Creek in the North County, and Country Club Drive in Harmony Grove. Gates at Quarry Road dip drop down automatically when activated by sensors in the stream. Public Works crews will post road closures at Country Club, Sandia Creek and any other areas where unsafe driving conditions exist. You can monitor the status of the dips by webcam and plan your trip accordingly.

Chain controls, road condition updates, and other safety advisories are posted on DPW’s Facebook and Twitter sites.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact