(February 24, 2017) - It's Friday, and lucky number 7 for "Ask CCPD." This week's topic actually comes from some Facebook comments on our post regarding the much needed rain we received this week. We got a comment from Tricia regarding emergency flashers on while driving, as well as an observation from David about tailgating as it relates to the rain.

And so, while you are free to sing like a songbird in the rain if you wish, we are here to talk about driving in the rain! Rainy season will soon be back upon us, and we often see an increase in weather-related crashes. To answer the question regarding emergency flashers, or hazard lights, while operating a vehicle, that is a violation of traffic law under Florida State Statute 316.2397(7). Emergency flashers are only to be used when stopped and/or disabled on the roadside. Your headlights will be enough to keep you visible in the rain, and they must be on during rain, smoke, or fog (F.S.S. 316.217). 

Roadways are slick in the rain, and not just for the obvious reason of being wet. Oils left from tires and vehicles on the roadway when wet will drastically reduce traction, especially when the rain first starts and before continued rain washes some of these oils away. Tailgating is never a good idea even on dry roads; you must give yourself room to stop in the event of a sudden stop in traffic, a road hazard, anything! We hear at crashes all the time, "The car in front of me stopped short/slammed on their brakes"....99% of the time the car that rear-ended the car in front of it didn't leave enough stopping room.

Stopping distance needed on wet roads is generally double what it is on dry roads, which is an even bigger problem if speed is a factor. Going 50 miles an hour and using average human reaction time and assuming good working brakes, you're probably looking at about 200 feet, or two thirds of a football field. That's on DRY road. Better hope you left a football field and then some between you and what's in front of you in the event of a sudden stop on wet roads!

Driving in the rain is not so different from driving in the snow, for you Northerners out there. Don't do anything quickly; brake slowly, accelerate slowly, steer slowly. This will help your vehicle get much better traction. Also remember to keep the vehicle itself in shape for weather: all lights working, tires properly inflated and with good tread to displace that water on the road, and windshield wipers working and clearing the windshield properly.

To recap our rain-riding rules:

  • Headlights YES! Emergency flashers NO!
  • Leave stopping space always, even more space in inclement weather.
  • Do everything slow like turtle: slow speed, slow on the brake, slow on the gas, slow steering.
  • Keep your car in good working order for bad weather.
  • Windshield wipers on. You'd think this doesn't need to be said, but you never know.

Hopefully this week's topic will help some of you, or even better keep you and yours from possibly getting hurt. Send us your questions, please! It was a light week for them, and we miss you. You can submit your questions via our Ask CCPD website page, or through our various social media platforms. Drive safe, and see you on the next one.

About the Author: 

PHOTO:  Corporal Phil Mullen, Cape Coral Police Department Public Affairs Officer.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

PHOTO:  Corporal Phil Mullen, Cape Coral Police Department Public Affairs Officer.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

Corporal Philip Mullen is a nine year law enforcement veteran assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police and serves as Assistant Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department.

For the last 9 years, Corporal Mullen served as a Patrol Officer in our Patrol Bureau, and as a Field Training Officer, preparing new recruits for the rigors of police work over the past 5 years. Corporal Mullen is a member of the Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guard and has represented the Cape Coral Police Department across the United States.  He is a recipient of two Lifesaving Awards and the department's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Phil holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Administration from Edison State College.

CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341