Of 11.7 million holiday travelers, 10 million to drive, AAA says

AAA predicts about 11.7 million Californians plan to travel during this holiday season. That's a 1.8 percent jump over last year. Of the predicted holiday travelers, 10 million will drive, an increase of 1.4 percent from 2011, AAA reported. If you are heading out to your holiday destination this weekend, check the weather forecast before you hit the road. A check of popular weather forecasting websites show rain is expected Friday through Sunday with sun, clouds and a chance of rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In light of the wet roads, here are some wet weather driving tips from the Office of Traffic Safety:
  • Use your seat belt every time you get in the car and hit the road – long trips, as well as short ones just a few blocks or miles away. Most crashes happen close to home. Seat belt use helps reduce injury and saves lives by preventing vehicle occupants from being thrown from the car in the event of a crash.
  • Turn on your headlights when the weather is cloudy, foggy and wet. This helps other drivers see you when it's difficult to see anything at all. No matter the color of your vehicle, in bad weather your car may blend into the bad weather, making it difficult for other drives to see you. possibly hit you.
  • Don't text or talk on your cell phone while driving. If you must take or make a call or look up some information on your phone, pull over to a safe place to do so. Do not use emergency lanes on the highway of on and off ramps to use your phone unless it is an emergency, such as a flat tire or other vehicle break down. The freeway is not the safest place to stop for a leisurely conversation. Inattentive drivers can hit you.
  • Do not drive faster than your headlights allow you to see. That means do not drive beyond the limits of your visibility. Glare from oncoming lights, amplified by the rain on the windshield, can cause temporary loss of visibility while substantially increasing driver fatigue.
  • When on a multi-lane road, use the middle lane, as water pools up in the outside lanes. Driving through big puddles may be fun, but they also can be dangerous. The high water can get to your engine, causing you to stall out. Also, since you cannot see through the puddle, there may be something there to pop your tires. And don't forget, it's difficult to steer through puddles, so going through one too fast, can cause you to lose control and crash.
  • Avoid driving through moving water if you cannot see the ground beneath it. Your vehicle can be swept off the road.
  • Slow down a bit. The higher rate of speed makes it easier to hydroplane and more difficult to stop.
  • Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads. Doing so can cause loss of traction and skidding.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes when you need to slow down or stop. You risk locking your wheels and going into a skid. Instead, maintain mild pressure on your brake pedal.
  • If you hydroplane, do not brake or turn. Ease your foot off the gas until the vehicle slows and you can feel traction on the road again. Turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid. As you recover control, gently straighten the wheels. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping action. If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. Your vehicle’s computer will mimic a pumping action.
Learn more about winter weather driving, including navigating through snow, at www.ots.ca.gov/OTS_and_Traffic.../winter_driving_tips.asp.
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