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CHP: Storm could wreak havoc on roads

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SAN DIEGO – A blustery late-autumn storm expected to douse San Diego late Thursday night has California Highway Patrol warning drivers of dangerous road conditions.

Their message is when the rain comes down, lighten up on the accelerator.

Motorists who fail to adjust to wet conditions substantially increase their risk of accidents, according to the state agency, which generally responds to 50-75 wrecks locally over a full day of dry conditions.

“And when it rains, you can see those numbers quadruple sometimes,” CHP public-affairs Officer Robert Catano said.

The CHP advises that during storms, it’s particularly important to follow common-sense roadway strategies: maintaining safe distances between vehicles; watching for stalled cars and other obstacles farther ahead; avoiding cellphone use and other distractions; refraining from unnecessary lane changes and passing maneuvers; and, of course, never driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Also, motorists need to slow down for safety’s sake, particularly during or after the first showers to hit following extended dry periods. At those times, oil, grease and other fluids cast off by autos rise to the surface of roadways and make them dangerously slick until the gunk washes away, according to the CHP.

Even posted speed limits — on area freeways, generally 65 mph — can be considerably too fast during a storm, Catano pointed out.

“It’s drivers’ responsibility to maintain a speed (at which) they can maintain control of their vehicle regardless of weather conditions,” he said.

Motorists also must make sure their cars are in safe-driving condition, with properly maintained tires, brakes, lights and other equipment, Catano said.