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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Conspiracy Theory #8765: Rain Reduces Drivers' IQ Points to Negative Numbers

Dear fellow drivers,

I feel it my absolute civic duty to clear up a few myths about driving in the rain that have apparently become so prevalent that, should these myths not be cleared up as soon as humanly possible, my next step would be to organize a petition to have all roads shut down completely during rainy weather.  I'm assuming that these are just urban legends or the result of some wacky information that's being passed around on the internet, because people can't POSSIBLY be this stupid. 

Let us begin.


MYTH #1:  Driving 15-20 miles BELOW the speed limit when there is a light drizzle is safer than driving the ACTUAL speed limit (or even 5 or so mph below).  This includes tapping or slamming your brakes every time a raindrop hits your windshield.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (I'm talking to you, white Corolla.)

FACT:  Driving in this manner is more likely to cause a time-space continuum that will result in being rear-ended by the people behind you (ie: me), accidentally on purpose.  That is, the time it takes you to slam on your brakes versus the time it takes me to accelerate and close the space between us will NOT be in your favor. Well, you can think of it as a favor.  You don't deserve to be on the road, anyway.



MYTH #2:  If you drive fast enough and swerve far enough, you can dodge the rain drops and get to your destination dry as a baby's bottom in a freshly-changed diaper.  (Pay attention, person in the shiny new Ford F-150 with the dealer tags still in place.)

FACT:  Again, time-space continuum. Only, with this scenerio, you can include all those big, pretty semi-trucks we share the road with in your twisted little game of chicken.  Spoiler:  You won't win.



MYTH #3:  If you ride the bumper of the person in front of you (red Dodge Neon), they will take the brunt of the rain and you'll be able to tell where the slick spots are because they'll hydroplane first.

FACT:  So long as my children aren't in the car, this little maneuver right here will inevitably cause my foot to migrate to the brake petal, you to land in my back seat, and your insurance to buy me a new car.  It won't matter if I was the only person who saw the monkey jump into my lane flinging bananas and poo at passersby, causing me to slam on my brakes - you rear-end me, you're automatically at fault. 



MYTH #4:  Teaming up with a person in the right lane who is going 15-20 miles under the speed limit and matching their pace in the left lane, blocking the passing lane and slowing down every single person behind you, creates a rain barrier and makes it safer to traverse wet roads.  Safety in numbers, right?

FACT:  Ever see a car pile-up on the news?  Let me break it down for you:  15-20 miles under the speed limit, even on the highway, is still roughly about 55-60 miles per hour.  We share the road with all kinds of vehicles and all kinds of drivers.  Big vehicles, small vehicles, happy drivers, angry drivers, inconsiderate drivers, and downright psychopaths.  Imagine put-putting along in your little car, going 15-20 miles slower than everyone else on the road (well, except for the person who's helping you block the road), wincing at every evil little rain drop that falls on your car, and think how quickly other vehicles are going to catch up on you.  You could have a line of 20 cars behind you in no time.  Then, you hit a slick spot and hydroplane.  Or the person behind you does.  Or a vehicle comes over a hill behind everyone DOING THE SPEED LIMIT and turns three cars into accordions before he even knows what's happened.  Ever stack up dominoes and watch them fall?  Remember that the next time you want to pull this one.  Only instead of falling, think crunching.



MYTH #5:  If you hydroplane, the best thing to do is slam on your brakes and yank the steering wheel any way you can in a panicked attempt to straighten back up and pretend like nothing ever happened.

FACT:  I'm not even going to go into the physics of this here, this should suffice:  have you ever seen a car behave like a spinning top, somersault across the road and into a creek/ditch/culvert and proceed to make like a firecracker?  I have, and it never turns out well.


HELPFUL HINTS:

  • Somewhere on your dashboard or steering wheel lies a magical device that, when enabled, wipes the rain right off your freakin' windshield.  Seriously!  It even has different settings for different severities of rain!  Go look, I'll wait.  While you're out there, make sure to push/pull/turn it to see how it works.
Did you find it?  Good!  Now take a mental note, and remember that knob/lever/button the next time you decide to drive in the rain.  Take a picture of it, draw a freakin map if you have to, but for the sake of yourself and everyone else on the road, USE IT!
  • Brake pedals can be very useful tools when you're on the road.  However, don't abuse the privilege, or you could very easily become a hood ornament for another vehicle (or a backwoods bonfire for the cast of Deliverance).
  • If you still feel nervous about driving in the rain, try driving around the block once or twice until you get the hang of it.  Then you can drive a little bit further.  Remember - baby steps.  If you STILL can't avoid any of the above behaviors while driving in the rain, give up.  Call in to work, play hooky, call a cab, whatever - but stay off the road.

Happy driving!
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