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Take extra care on wet roads

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Traveling along our roads lately has become more treacherous thanks to persistent rainy weather. It creates an added risk in Brunswick County, where it seems motorists are surrounded by waterways at all times.

Although water is often visible on the surface of the road during and after a heavy rainfall, what motorists do not or cannot see is where the real danger lies.

“The road could be washed out and the water may be much deeper than you realize. Even if it appears intact, the roadway could collapse under the weight of your vehicle,” reads a 2009 report by the National Safety Commission. “Less than an inch of water can cause a driver to lose control. As little as six inches of rushing water has enough force to push your car off the road. Your car can float in as little as two feet of water and you could be washed away into a flooded stream or river.”

Roads are the slickest once rain has begun to fall, especially if it has not rained for a while, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, the rain combines with dirt, dust, oil, grease and rubber to create a slippery surface.

It is best if motorists stay off the roads in bad weather, but it is not always realistic. Here are some tips from NCDOT to help drivers navigate wet roads more safely:

  • Allow more travel time and keep vehicle tires and brakes in good working condition.
  • Reduce your speed and drive defensively. Motorists should drive at least five to 10 mph slower on wet pavement and allow at least twice the normal following distance between cars to provide ample room for stopping.
  • Turn on your low beam headlights and use the defroster to increase visibility whether it is day or night. North Carolina law states motorists must use their headlights at all times while using windshield wipers regardless of the time of day. High beams could reflect off the fog and decrease visibility.
  • If possible, stay in the middle lane. Most American roads are higher in the middle, so there is a greater chance of water runoff and standing water in the side lanes.
  • After driving through a puddle, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotors.
  • Do not try to cross running water.
  • Do not drive through flooded areas.
  • Know what to do if your car begins to hydroplane. If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, but do not stomp on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner, and steer in the direction of the skid.

For NCDOT real-time road condition reports, call 511 or go to http://tims.ncdot.gov/tims/RegionSummary.aspx?re=9.

Please drive carefully, no matter what the weather.