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Special to the Journal

Half a Million People are Injured in Traffic Crashes on Wet Pavement Every Year

TAMPA, Fla. (June 06, 2013) – The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is delivering its first major rainmaker this week. Tropical Storm Andrea will flood roads and increase AAA’s call volume with motorists who have hydroplaned, crashed and/or broken down.

AAA advises motorists to drive slower than usual, leave ample space between vehicles while driving, and not to drive through standing water. If a vehicle shuts down while in standing water do not try to restart it. Restarting a vehicle in standing water can cause more water to enter the engine and could cost thousands of dollars to repair.

“It’s important that drivers heed official warnings and avoid driving on wet and flooded roads if able,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, The Auto Club Group. “If motorists must drive, AAA recommends they drive slower than the allotted speed limit to decrease their chances of hydroplaning and avoid standing water at all costs.”

Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement with more than a half million injuries and 5,700 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To help drivers brush up on their wet-weather driving, AAA Driver Training offers a free brochure Get A Grip: A Guide to Wet-Weather Driving Techniques.

Tips for Driving on Wet Roads

Check Tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and have enough tread depth. This will allow the vehicle to have better traction and maneuverability on the road. Worn tires with little tread are much more likely to hydroplane on wet pavement, resulting in a loss of braking power and steering control. Check the tread depth of your car’s tires by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head at any point, it’s time for new tires.

Avoid Cruise Control: This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

Slow Down and Leave Room: Drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it’s important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them. While a minimum of a 3-4 seconds following distance is recommended on dry pavement, it should be increased to 5-6 seconds when driving on wet roads.
Avoid Standing Water and Flooded Roads at all Times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from:Flooding the engine.

Warping brake rotors
Loss of power steering
Short in electrical components

The Auto Club Group, the second largest affiliation of AAA clubs, offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 8.8 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories. This includes Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and Tennessee; and a portion of Indiana. The Auto Club Group belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada, whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

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