Why the Hell Can't Houstonians Drive in the Rain? Five Possible Answers

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Rain: Time for Houston drivers to panic
WARNING WARNING WARNING: Water was falling from the skies this morning.

Not a lot of it -- mostly drizzle with some patches of heavier stuff -- but it was enough, of course, to turn the morning commute into a long, dull slog.

We say "of course" because for whatever reason, rush hour rain seems to cause Houston drivers to lose whatever behind-the-wheel skills they have.

Everyone knows that Los Angeles freeways become paralyzed by a few drops, but Houston -- where, let's face it, we should be used to rain -- can seem just as bad.

Why? Five possible explanations.

5. We're used to sheets of rain When Houston gets hit with rain, we can really get hit with rain. The kind of rain where the windshield wipers are a sick joke, sloshing across an impenetrable wall of windshield water. So when the rain is less dense than that, drivers become obsessed with how to set the rhythm of their wipers -- too often and you get that dry squeak; not often enough and you sit there with a windshield full of drops, testing yourself as to whether you should go in for the override and pull the level for a wipe or just wait it out.

You do all this in lieu of, you know, keeping within 12 car lengths of the vehicle in front of you.

4. Police and tow-truck lights look so much prettier filtered through raindrops It's like an arty movie, with sad music on the soundtrack. Your mind gets lost in the reverie of it all, as you crawl to an absolute stop to take in the wonder that is a fender-bender pulled over to the shoulder.

3. Side windows don't have wipers So sometimes you can't see the outside rear-view mirror too clearly. Don't worry, go ahead and make that lane change. And remember, this is Houston -- whatever you do, don't use that blinker.

2. Any puddle could be a car-swallowing pool of despair You've seen the TV news in your time. You know that rains bring video of cars that tried to make it through deceptively deep water. Sure, everyone else ahead of you on this freaking highway seems to be getting through just fine, but you never know when a hidden tsunami will occur. Best take it down to three miles per hour to make it over this hazardous mare incognitum.

1. There's always one guy who thinks water is ice In terms of its slipperiness, that is. Yes, water-slick streets are gonna cause problems with braking. This does not mean that you a) Leave 24 car lengths between you and the car in front of you that is going 15 mph; and b) slam on the brakes whenever someone cuts into that yawning gap you've created.


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