Los Angeles, here’s how to drive in the rain

What's expected to be the wettest storm in at least two years is descending on California. And you get to drive in the worst of it.

"Rain will fall everywhere in the state Friday," says Western weather analyst Ken Clark, "with the heavy rain mostly in the southern third of the state."

That could make SoCal smashup central -- especially as cooler weather combined with the wet roads increases crash risk "significantly," Steve Mazor of the Auto Club of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. 

Here's an "am I doing everything I can to avoid a wreck" checklist.  Work your way down. It could help keep you, and all those drivers hurtling alongside you, safe:

(Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times)

Pan and scan

Keep your eyes scanning the roadway to avoid road debris and look out for disabled vehicles in reduced-visibility conditions.

Slow. Down.

Driving at reduced speeds helps you prepare for sudden stops due to debris and other hazards. Reduce your speed -- particularly as you drive through puddles.

England is having its wettest winter since at least 1766. On Thursday, volunteers in Burrowbridge rescued a car cut off in flooding by using a pontoon. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Yes, it goes against the grain, but allow extra room.

Your car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet pavement.

Slipping? Don't slam on the brakes.

If you find yourself skidding on wet pavement, don't slam the brakes. Apply light but firm pressure. Steer in the direction the car is sliding. For cars equipped with anti-lock brakes, drivers should apply heavy, steady pressure, but do not pump the brakes.

Looking to salvage a car that slid off the roadway in Camarillo in March 2000. (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

Keep to the center.

Use the center lanes of the road -- and don’t cross the yellow line. Water tends to collect in the outside lanes as they slope to the curbside.

Pay attention.

We "always" pay attention, right?  Now, really pay attention. Driving in the rain requires more mental effort. Don't eat. Don't drink. Don't use your cellphone. Don't text. Don't fumble with CDs. Don't put on your makeup.  And once it stops raining, continue to avoid all those activities while behind the wheel.


After early rain, downtown L.A. saw white clouds and blue sky Thursday. (Nick Ut / Associated Press)


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