Driving Safely Through El NiƱo

Despite the name (which means "the little boy" in Spanish) El Niño is a force to be reckoned with. And the 2015 season is just around the corner.

In weather terms El Niño is a warming of the surface water of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean that occurs every 4 to 12 years and wonks up global weather patterns. Weather pundits say the 2015 season will be a breeze for East Coasters - fewer and weaker hurricanes. But it may prove a rough one for those on the Pacific Coast - far wetter and more dangerous than usual. The last time El Niño behaved the way it's predicted to this year was 19 years ago, when the weather phenomenon brought over 20 inches of snow and rain in some areas in California. West Coasters dealt with flooding and mudslides.

Nationwide, there are 5,879,000 automobile accidents each year, according to statistics from the US Department of Transportation. Of them, 23 percent are weather-related. The worst are those involving rain and wet pavement, accounting for 80 percent of weather-related injuries and claiming the lives of nearly 4.800 annually. That figure tops the number of accidents involving sleet, snow, ice and fog combined.

Of course, it's always critical to that you take extra caution when driving during bad weather. To help keep you and your family safe during the El Niño season, E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  • Watch for road signs and other warnings of stretches of roadways prone to flooding. Standing water can cause your ride to stall out and sustain damage including a loss of power steering, warped brake rotors or electrical shorts.
  • Check your tires regularly to assure they're properly inflated and have sufficient thread.
  • Avoid using cruise control while it's raining or when driving on wet roads.
  • Turn on your headlights to make sure you can see well and that drivers of oncoming vehicles can see you as well.
  • Pull over if needed. If you can't see the road's edges, the cars in front of you or the cars in back of you at a reasonable distance in wet weather, safely pull off the road and wait out the downpour. Better to get there late than not at all.

From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, stay safe on the roadways.