03 Apr 2023
Car driving in the rain

As noted in a previous posting, Northern California has had a wet and rainy 2023. According to a March 23, 2023 article in the Sacramento Bee, nearly half of the days this year have experienced rainfall. This includes the first 11 days straight in January.   

Unfortunately, wind and rain usually cause more than just property damage. According to a study published in the Bulletin of the American Meterology Society about driving in the rain states:

“The risk of a fatal crash is measurably and significantly increased by falling precipitation, even at light rates, in all regions of the continental United States, even without considering after-effects such as wet roads that may linger after the precipitation has stopped” (emphasis added).

According to the same study, people are 34% more likely to be in a fatal accident if the road conditions are wet. This is compared to that same location under dry conditions.

What To Do When You’re Driving In The Rain

Driving in rain can be difficult on its own, made worse by the poor driving and understanding of some of our fellow drivers. Nevertheless, here are three tips you can follow to make your rainy drive a little safer:

  1. Turn On Your Vehicle’s Headlights

    • Not only does turning your headlights on when it’s raining make it easier to see things around you and, in turn, be seen by others, it’s also required.
    • Cal. Vehicle Code § 24400(b) states:
      • “A motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be operated during darkness, or inclement weather, or both, with at least two lighted headlamps. . . .”
        • “Inclement weather” is defined as any condition preventing the driver from clearly discerning a person or another motor vehicle on the highway from a distance of 1,000 feet,
        • Whenever windshield wipers are needed to be in continuous use due to rain, mist, snow, fog, or other precipitation or atmospheric moisture.
  2. Slow Down

    • Just because you’re driving the speed limit doesn’t mean you’re necessarily driving safely under inclement conditions. According to Cal. Vehicle Code § 22350:
      • “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
    • The California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Handbook recommends reducing driving speed by 5 to 10 mph to prevent hydroplaning.
  3. Don’t Use Your Hazard Lights While Driving

    • This is a trickier one. Plenty of well-meaning people tend to do the first two things we suggest when it’s raining, slow down and turn their headlines on. But they also do something they probably shouldn’t: turn on their flashing hazard lights.
    • This practice has been challenged by numerous safety and weather experts. For example, according to Accuweather:
      • “Hazard lights can actually reduce visibility making other drivers think you are stopped or stalled. They make it difficult to see if motorists ahead are tapping on the brakes and they don’t allow you to use your turn signals.”
    • Understand that the practice of driving with hazard lights flashing differs depending on your state. For example:
      • Florida recently passed a law specifically allowing motorists to drive with their hazard lights flashing when:
        • (i) there is extremely low visibility on a road;
        • (ii) where that road has a speed limit of at least 55 mph.
      • California takes a different approach. Per Vehicle Code § 25250:
        • “Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted.”
        • Section 25251 then lists several permitted exceptions, including:
          • Using a turn signal to indicate intent to turn left or right;
          • When the vehicle is disabled or parked off the roadway but within 10 feet of the roadway;
          • When approached stopped at, or departing a railroad crossing;
          • To warn other motorists under certain conditions of hazards or accidents on the roadway;
          • If you’re an emergency vehicle;
          • To warn motorists that you are in a funeral procession;
          • When your car is disabled on the roadway and its hazard lights are still function, among others.

As always, none of the above is intended to be construed as legal advice and is merely being provided for informational purposes.  However, if you believe you have been injured by the negligence of another please call or email us to schedule a free consultation.