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Rain Slick

Take care on the roads

October 1, 2005

The rain that fell Friday morning was a welcome thing indeed. The long dry season received a needed dose of wetness.

However, rainfall coming after so long a spell brings a safety problem: slick pavements. Weeks of dust, grime and oil builds up a layer that creates a slippery sheen that can turn perilous at first rainfall.

“It’s slick everywhere. They’re sliding off the road,” a Hood River County 9-1-1 dispatcher said Friday at 11:19 a.m. Firefighters from around the county responded to at least five vehicle accidents on Friday morning, shortly after the rain started to fall. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the causes of the wrecks are under investigation, but the accidents call out for a caution to all drivers to take it slow and easy on wet roads.

The rain-slick result happens after each drought period, but based on the number of crashes Friday it seemed particularly bad in this case.

According to a recent ABC News report, the best way to prevent skids is by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid, according to the ABC report.

More tips from ABC: While skids on wet pavement may be frightening, hydroplaning is completely nerve-wracking. Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car’s weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. At this point, your car can be completely out of contact with the road, and you are in danger of skidding or drifting out of your lane, or even off the road.

To avoid hydroplaning, keep your tires properly inflated, maintain good tread on your tires and replace them when necessary, slow down when roads are wet, and stay away from puddles. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.

If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally; the car’s computer will mimic a pumping action, when necessary.

A defensive driver adjusts his or her speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures.

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