The good people of Texas possess many skills. (Learn some of the ones you don’t currently possess by reading TexasMonthly.com editor-in-chief Andrea Valdez’s book How To Be A Texan!) One skill that does not appear in the pages of that volume, however, is “driving in the rain”—and with good reason. Texans stink at it. Boy, Texans stink at it.
Flying down the highway at a perfectly legal 85 miles per hour? We’re great at that when it’s dry. Enduring the mind-numbing gridlock found in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio every single day? We do it with charm, class, and aplomb. But navigating a roadway when there’s so much as a simple drizzle falling from the sky is beyond the ken of the average Texan. We don’t intend to bash our beloved home, or our fellow Texans, but we owe it to ourselves to be honest about our shortcomings.
Texans driving in the rain. pic.twitter.com/W7V7DpKJkZ
— Dan Lascoskie (@dlascoskie) May 18, 2016
That’s been made clear this week when the skies parted and a holy torrent of rain descended upon much of the state. As a result, the bad drivers are out in force. And one Texan—one lone Texan, with a vision and a dream—has drawn a line in the
dust dirt mud and said, “Enough.” Tonya Dansby of Central Texas Driving School told KXXV that she now offers an entire special program on driving in the rain.
“We have a whole module dedicated to driving in the rain, so we want to make sure they know what they need to do,” Dansby told the station’s Noel Smart, explaining that, rather than wait for the clouds to pass when it starts to rain before putting drivers back on the road, her program gets them back out on the streets. “Anytime it rains we don’t shut down,” she said. “We make sure our drivers go out so that every kid can benefit as much as possible from the rainy conditions.”
The lesson takes a full two hours and is available to both teens and adults.
For those who are embarrassed to admit that they could be a part of this Texas trope—as opposed to, like many of us, assuming that we’re the exception to the rule—we’ll offer some of the basics on driving in the rain, which come to us from the Texas Department of Insurance.
Driving slower than usual is a good idea in the rain, but not to the point of becoming a road hazard is not particularly helpful. If you normally speed, though, commuting during a thunderstorm would be an ideal time ease up on the lead foot. But even more important than paying attention to your speedometer is your following distance. In good conditions, that’s about three seconds—when the car in front of you passes that billboard for Whataburger, you should that same orange-and-white temptation three seconds later—but in rainy weather, give yourself an extra couple seconds. If everybody observes this, then traffic still flows efficiently, the pace of the commute is largely unchanged, and everyone has more time to react to the conditions. The middle lane is a better place to be than the left and right lanes, since water tends to pool along the sides of the road. Try not to brake when you need to slow down—if you have proper following distance, it should be possible to slow down by taking your foot off the gas, which reduces the risk of skidding.
Read the guide for more specifics, since the forecast in North, East, Central, and Southeast Texas is pretty gloomy over the coming days.