Driving tips from CHP, Sonoma Raceway to keep you out of trouble in the rain

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Get behind the wheel, and more than a few of us feel like racecar drivers at heart.

It may be fine in a place like Sonoma Raceway, but after raindrops hit the highways tomorrow, not so smart.

"Inevitably after the first rains, they will drive like they did all summer," said Officer Andrew Barclay of the California Highway Patrol.

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At the Sonoma Raceway Driving School, instructor Nico Rondet described them more succinctly. "They're clueless."

Today, he demonstrated what to do if your car begins to slide on wet pavement, or enters a deep puddle at high speed. Success depends upon maintaining your car's center of gravity.

"Do nothing. Try to cut through it straight. No brakes. No acceleration. When you try to change the action, you cause the bigger problems."

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When cars hydroplane, drivers become passengers, essentially. If the tires have grip, however, drivers have hope.

"What it really boils down to is a coefficient of friction," said Officer Barclay. "How are those wheels gripping the highway?"

Fresh tires with deep tread can make all of the difference. If in doubt, check the wear bar between the tread. It's a little horizontal bar running perpendicular to the treads and should lie considerably below them.

The CHP had one other piece of important advice. "Make sure your windshield wipers are good," said Officer Barclay. "And, if you turn on your wipers, also turn on your lights. The easier you are to see, the less likely that another car will hit you."

See the latest Bay Area forecasts and weather updates here.
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