Driving In the Rain
It sure has been nice to get a little rain. The rain means that Lake Mendocino is filling up, our rivers and streams are starting to flow again, and the threat of drought is receding a little.
During these winter storms it’s important to take some simple steps to drive safely, and to stay informed about hazards that might affect us.
First, if you’re using your windshield wipers, turn on your headlamps. The California Vehicle Code, amended in 2005, requires drivers to turn on their lights anytime their wipers are "in continuous use because of rain, mist, snow, fog or moisture."
When you think about it, it just makes sense that headlamps are a good idea when we drive in heavy rain, because our visibility is reduced. Lit headlamps help in two ways: you can see more clearly when you’re driving, and other drivers can see you more easily.
Driving during a storm can be difficult, so it’s important to slow down and pay attention. Driving too fast in wet conditions and failing to identify and respond to hazards like roadway ice can be especially dangerous.
One of the biggest driving hazards, especially when stormy conditions require maximum focus, is distracted driving—allowing someone or something to divert your attention. Most of the time people are distracted because they won’t stop texting while driving. I can’t begin to explain how dangerous this is for the driver who is texting, and for the rest of us!
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. The NHTSA reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds; at 55 mph that is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded.
At any given moment, according to the NHTSA, approximately 660,000 U.S. drivers are not watching where they drive because they are using their cell phones, and the results are deadly: 3,328 were killed in distracted-driving crashes in 2012.
Texting has become so ingrained in teens that they often feel obligated to read and respond to text messages as soon as they receive them, even while driving. I know teens say they would never close their eyes while driving (especially during a winter storm), yet that’s exactly what they’re doing when they text and drive. They might as well put on a blindfold.
Adults text and drive, too—all the time. Please stop. No text is worth the risk; whatever message you were going to send, it can wait!
Along with driving safely this winter, I encourage everyone to stay informed during storms and electrical outages. Avoid bad road conditions when you can. One of the best ways to stay informed is through the City of Ukiah and the Ukiah Police Department Facebook pages. We post frequent updates to provide information on current events. During storms, electrical outages and other events, we try to share information as fast as we can, so you know how conditions will impact you and your neighborhood.
If you’re interested in receiving additional up-to-the minute information, consider signing up for our Nixle notification system. Signing up is easy and once you’re signed up, you will receive text and email messages about hazardous weather events, electrical outages and other important information occurring where you live. You can find a link to sign up for Nixle on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
You can also obtain electrical outage information through the city’s 24-hour power outage hotline at 463-6288. This hotline provides information and updates about repairs, and allows people to report outages.
I encourage everyone to stay safe this winter: use your headlamps in stormy conditions, slow down and please don’t text and drive.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police