Driving in the Rain

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Yesterday Trudi and I drove from Richmond Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky.  And it could be described as a torrential downpour the whole way.  Hours upon hours, I had the windshield wipers on full speed and it still wasn’t enough.  It was a stressful drive.

That being said, the drivers of the other cars, not all of them, but a lot of them, drove so poorly, that the weather wasn’t the most dangerous aspect of the drive.

I don’t know who taught drivers in West Virginia how to drive in the rain, but it must be the same guy or maybe it is on the WV driver’s test.  For some reason, they think the proper way to handle torrential rain on an interstate highway is to pull into the left land and drive at 40 mph with their emergency flashers on.

100’s if not 1000’s of cars did this exact same thing, so either they learned it in driving school or by observation.  Either way, it is wrong and very dangerous.  Slow driving vehicles belong in the right lane of an interstate.  In Kansas, you’ll be ticketed for driving slow in the left lane.  I even believe it is illegal to pass on the right, but I may be wrong on that.

Add on top of this 1000’s up 1000’s of semi trailer trucks and the whole drive was crazy.  I don’t know how many  accidents I saw.  Luckily for us, most of them were on the other side of the road.  One was on the westbound side, so we had to get off and drive the 18 miles to Charleston West Virginia on a small road beside a creek.  But, other than that we got lucky.

Lots of the accidents were trucks that had hit other trucks.  I think there were so many accidents were two-fold.  Or three-fold if that is an expression.

One, the rain was super heavy.  Obviously that made it dangerous.  Two, the bad drivers, especially slow drivers in the left lane causing everyone to go into “the truck” lane on the right. And three, the asphalt highways were really bad in places.  I don’t know if it is because of the amount of truck traffic or what on I-64, but the highway is lower where your tires are and there are small streams of water running down the road.  The Acura I was driving is a super car, AWD and very responsive.  But I hydroplaned a few times and I was driving, what I thought, pretty conservative.  Not 40 mph left lane conservative, but conservative enough to not be hydroplaning on interstate highway.

Anyway, made it to Louisville in time for dinner, but a tad late.  Karl had made pizza and Stacie had brussel sprouts and yellow squash with it.  Since is was raining, plus the falls leaves already falling, the food seemed season appropriate, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I didn’t ride yesterday, so I’m going to try to squeez a ride in with Karl between the rain today.  I don’t really miss too many days of riding.  I’d be surprised if I have missed 20 days this year total.  Okay, I as curious, so I went and counted on Strava.  I’ve missed 23 days since I started riding the first week in January.  Most all those days were because of travel.  I think 3 were sick days, so it’s about 2 a month.  Whenever I don’t ride, I feel out of sorts, so I try to get in just a little, no matter what.

Thinking of heading over by Churchill down to have breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy.  I try to eat there everytime I come to Louisville.  I like the ambiance, historic horse racing memorabilia and the food is good and cheap.

My view most of the day.

My view most of the day.

Lot and lots of trucks had issue yesterday in West Virginia.

Lot and lots of trucks had issue yesterday in West Virginia.

The Capitol building in Charleston is nice.

The Capitol building in Charleston is nice.

Brussel sprouts.

Brussel sprouts.

Karl's pizza. It was great.

Karl’s pizza. It was great.

We had to drop off the extra BMC cars to be shipped back to California.

We had to drop off the extra BMC cars to be shipped back to California.





56 thoughts on “Driving in the Rain

  1. Bolas Azules

    “Slow driving vehicles belong in the right lane of an interstate.” Every inexperienced driver / left lane vigilante should be forced to have those words tattooed down their arm. If I don’t feel like keeping up with the flow of traffic, I just move over. How hard is that?

  2. bob

    So not only are you the Miss Cleo of cycling (you predicted that the winning attack at worlds would be made on the only technical cobbled hill right before the finish), with more knowledge and experience than any ProTour D.S. out there, you are an awesome driver!

    I mean, it’s a little strange that you call everyone else bad drivers, but then you admit hydroplaning an AWD vehicle (I’m not even angry; I’m impressed!). Maybe none of those “bad” drivers would have been in accidents had they been driving technologically superior vehicles provided by a doping kingpin (Ochowicz) inspired by a blood doping pioneer?

    Although, I can’t really fault you. I think I’m the world’s best driver, but my significant other thinks I’m the worst!

  3. Joe Green

    Sometimes the right lane, where the slower trucks tend to drive, is more torn up and has deeper troughs (filled with water) worn by the tires. Maybe people drove in the smoother left lane to avoid hydroplaning or driving into a water-filled pot hole?

  4. Christian Davenport

    I believe the “left lane is for passing” law is pretty much applicable to every state. I like to remind folks that semi truck drivers are technically the only “professional” drivers you will encounter daily, and usually respect the “pass on the right” laws.

    I spent two years commuting daily on I-80 between Lincoln and Omaha. You get a great sense of Interstate driving behavior when you see it every day and often the same vehicles/drivers. With three lanes in both directions, drivers predominantly used the center and left lanes, and the right lane was usually clear. Those wanting to move along unimpeded can usually get in the right lane and not have to worry about slow pokes and changing lanes. My observations from an Interstate commute would indicate that many drivers are completely oblivious to what is going on behind them.

    My favorite moronic behavior is what Interstate drivers do when it hails….drivers stopping on the shoulder under a bridge, often in a line, with some cars not even under the bridge, waiting for those who are under it to move on so they can be protected. What is worse is when drivers stop in the driving lane…..really smart thing to do when visibility is already diminished.

    I’ve worked in the Transportation and Traffic engineering industry for 20 years. There is only so much engineers, law enforcement, and education (public service announcements, etc.) can do to promote and ensure safe driving behavior. There will always be that 10-15% of drivers where “you can’t fix stupid” applies. Granted, we as a country have done ourselves a disservice by largely eliminating drivers ed from high school cirruculum. Yes, traffic fatalities in the US are on the decline, but much of that is attributable to the development of mandated safety features and equipment in automobiles.

  5. Christian Davenport

    Woops, I mean “pass on the left” laws.

    I forgot to add, it is somewhat well known in the Traffic Engineering industry the narcissistic attitude of American drivers and their self-perceived skill behind the wheel. When drivers are surveyed about their own driving skill, most Americans believe that their driving skill is well above average in comparison to other American drivers.

  6. Bryan

    Sometimes drivers get in the left lane while not passing simply to get out of the tire wash of the vehicle in front of them. I’ve done that many times. Once I am out of their wash, I move back over.

  7. bob

    The point remains – is it “good driving” or safe to want all the people out of the left lane so you can hydroplane on through?

    Does speed have an effect on hydroplaning? How about if your hazards are on?

  8. Slim

    I believe Steve and I are of the same mind frame. Every driver driving slower than me is an idiot and every driver driving faster than me is a maniac.

  9. darkcloud

    Lots of drivers are simply “left laners.” It’s their god given right to be in the left lane. And it doesn’t matter that they are driving at exactly the same speed as the car in the right lane that is abeam them.
    Just drove from Chicago to Phoenix. Lots of that activity taking place.
    Highway patrol needs to start a country wide campaign to ticket these folks.

  10. Krakatoa East of Java

    When on long drives on rural freeways (with just two lanes in each direction), I use cruise control. As does most everyone else. If I stay in the right-hand lane, I very often have to pass 18-wheelers. And I’m often then blocked-in by people (also using cruise control) who are in the left-hand lane.

    After years of frustration, I started staying in the left-hand lane full time, with my cruise control set at 80. Sometimes, people wanting to go a steady “81” will slowly creep up on me, expecting me to get over. If there are absolutely NO trucks (or slower cars), I’ll get over. But if there’s slower traffic on the right, I’m not budging for a 1MPH difference in speed. Because every time I do, I get boxed-in, waiting, as the guy overtaking me never “adjusts up” on his speed to let me back in behind him. If you still want to pass me, and there’s room, dial-up your cruise a few more MPH and pass me on the right.

    In heavy rain, I do slow down. Significantly. Why? To give me time to react when one of the bozos (passing me at 80) wipes out. A lot of drivers in huge pickups and SUVs are WAY overconfident of their traction and handling skills when it rains.

  11. Christian Davenport

    Really? Square root of 35 psi is 5.9, multiplied by 3 is 17.75, which I assume is mph. Using metric units (bar, kph) results in a much smaller product. I think your equation is incorrect.

    Most literature in traffic safety routinely calls out 35mph as the starting point for hydroplaning to occur. Tire pressure and velocity are but only two of many variables.

  12. Christian Davenport

    The vehicles you typically see in the ditch in slick winter conditions are trucks and SUVs. Significantly heavier curb weights and centers of gravity cancel out any advantages of AWD or 4wd. Physics always wins and ice does not discriminate over which wheels are powered.

  13. H Luce

    Speed does have an effect on hydroplaning, so that when you feel that start to happen, you take your foot off the accelerator – *not* hit the brakes, obviously. It’s the same sort of thing as when you have a blowout at 75mph (been there, done that) – foot off accelerator, steer onto shoulder, brake gently when speed is below 40 mph. AWD only helps when the tires are on the road surface and there’s a minimal amount of traction available (snow and ice, muddy roadway on dirt road).

    As for driving on two-lane county roads besides streams in a torrential rainstorm in West Virginia, I think I’d sit that one out and not take a chance on a flash flood ruining my day.

  14. SM

    It isn’t that simple. MANY more factors are needed to calculate hydroplaning.
    Here is a start…
    Depth of water
    Weight of vehicle
    Width of tire
    Tread depth of tire
    Tread design (some are designed to shed water better than others)

  15. Jason

    God I hope you never use the cruise control in the rain. And why not just speed up the damn 1 mph to get around the car in the right lane and quickly move over for the car behind you? You can even leave your cruise control on. I’m sorry, but cruise control-only drivers are the worst. You should always be ready to adjust your speed to keep the flow of traffic smooth. You shouldn’t even be using control in heavy traffic anyway. And heavy traffic is ANY traffic where you feel it is possible to get boxed in. I cannot wait for Skynet and self-driving cars…

  16. Michael Thompson

    Hey KEJ, this is exactly the type of behavior on the roads that I abhor. It causes so many problems on the interstates because even if you are going JUST 1 mph slower, I still have to dodge another obstacle on the road, namely, your 3000 lb pile of metal. Really, where do you get this sense of entitlement that everyone has to take evasive action on the road just for you? SLOWER vehicles need and are supposed to move over and get the hell out of the way. If a car is coming up behind me I have no qualms about getting over to let them pass. The faster, the better because they are getting out of my way. If I feel that I’m going to get trapped behind a slower vehicle by getting back in the right lane, I will actually speed up to get around and then move right to let the faster vehicle get past, no big deal. The big problem on the interstates is precisely cruise control, I hardly ever use because it actually causes LESS control of your car. If you can’t pay enough attention to control your speed, you should’t be on the road. People just set the thing and that is one more thing they don’t have to pay attention to on the road. Also, they think they have some inalienable right to NEVER change it or deactivate it. When I am in the right lane and I need to pass I speed up to pass quickly, and therefore not interfere with those who might come up behind me, then get back over. Most people nowadays seem to only watch the road in front of them when in reality they should know whats going on ALL around and taking action, not only for safety, but also just to be considerate of others on the highways. I do drive mostly above the speed limit on the interstate, mainly to keep further away from others, for safety. If you just get over, I’ll get quickly past you and be gone then you can go back to your mindless cruise down the road. Why don’t you take a nap while you’re at it?
    I notice this privileged driving behavior of hogging the left lane with a line of cars behind, mainly from kansas drivers, around here. I spend a lot of time on I-70 in Missouri and 90-95% of the time its a kansas car causing the slow down and danger by being in the left lane. In fact, even in some far flung places from here if come upon a slow car in the passing lane, most of the time it has ks plates. Seems odd, maybe Steve can explain this.

  17. darkcloud

    Christian D,
    Good catch!
    9 X square root of the tire pressure= minimum hydroplaning speed (in knots)
    35 psi …/formula/…converted to mph = 61.23 mph
    Got that from an aviation manual, fwiw

  18. Mike

    I like how everybody criticizes the drivers and nobody comments on the need for infrastructure improvement. Part of what made this nation great was spending money on itself- like on interstate highway systems. To bad we aren’t willing to do that anymore.

  19. Jim

    It is too bad that when we get behind the wheel of a car other cars can piss us off so easily for going too slow. Imagine now, if you will, those same cars and what they think about it when they come up behind a cyclist going much slower that most cars … and we wonder why cyclists get hit, maimed for life or even killed all too often.

  20. Krakatoa East of Java

    Oh I’m sorry. YOUR 80.25 MPH cruise control setting must be more important than my 80.0 setting. If I’m just about to overtake traffic that is going slower than us, and you just SO happen to have arrived after 10 miles of “almost” catching me, I look upon ourselves as (essentially) two equals with the same goal. We both want to pass that right-lane traffic. But I’m there first. Sorry pal, but I’m not going to move over just so you can either not move past me at all, or pass so slowly that I end up having to hit the brakes for what’s up ahead.

    If our difference in speed is small, AND there is no right-lane traffic, yeah, I’ll totally get over. But if you think I’m getting stuck for 0-1MPH, I’ll gladly wear the Scarlet letter “A” (for asshole). If you do get stuck behind me, I won’t be for long, because I’ll “notch-up” and move as soon as there is room.

  21. Krakatoa East of Java

    Cruise Control keeps a constant speed. It’s you guys that never use it that cause the problems. You think you’re being consistent, when you really aren’t. Someone passes me while I’m on CC, and then they slow down immediately afterwards. I pass them again (at the same speed). It’s completely stupid. They switch back and forth between thinking I’m a slow idiot and a fast asshole, when I’ve maintained the same speed for the last hour. It’s nuts.

  22. Paul L. Kordus

    I know what you mean about slow vehicles we had the same problem driving back to Wisconsin from Richmond but we had dry roads the whole way except for the last 10 miles ,,,,,, we were lucky but soulnds like you had a rough ride !!!

  23. Krakatoa East of Java

    I do “notch-up” when someone behind me wants to pass (and there is right lane traffic). And I do get over if I can. And I do get over for a big difference between my speed and the guy overtaking me.

  24. euro

    Mike-it isn’t that we’re not willing to do that any more. The true cause is Obama and his great mission to grow the dependent and illegal immigrant class as quickly and as large as possible. Nicer highways would be terrific, but as long as we are exponentially increasing the lower welfare class our hard earned tax dollars will go to this side of the table.

  25. Jim Ochowicz

    Acura USA called, the can’t get your smell out of the vehicle…plus, as I told you last week – you’re not covered by our insurance carrier. I give you free tubes but that does not make you an employee of our organization. Cease and desist operating our vehicles, Stetina concurs

  26. Larry T.

    Every year when I come back from Italy I swear I’m going to get a big reverse-letter (so they can read it in their rear-view mirror, though they never look at it anyway) DRIVE RIGHT- PASS LEFT sticker to put at the top of my windshield. I enjoy driving on the autostrada in Italy but HATE the freeways in the USA because of dolts like the guy above, who decide the left lane belongs to them for some reason and drone along over there for mile after mile. The cops are no better. Europeans have to pass real DRIVING tests which must cover some aspects of car-control rather than the lame tests they (rarely) make drivers pass here. Finally, when you get too old and senile for a car, they take your license away so all you can drive is what I call a “lawnmower” car..some tiny sh__t-box with a centrifugal clutch that sounds (and goes about the same speed) as a lawn tractor. Yes, they can still kill a cyclist with one of these (I’ve dodged a few over the years) but they can’t go on the autostrada, so it’s tough for them to get in too much trouble in one. Combined with the horrible conditions of most interstate highways and the awful dining choices along them, this really, really, really makes me hate to drive in the USA

  27. Mike

    Are you kidding me? That is the opposite of my post. Spending money includes the war on poverty, affirmative action, head start, and English as a second language. It also includes the Panama Canal, space shuttles, and research science. The TVA and other hydroelectric, national parks,- it’s all for the common good.

    Steve- I apologize for dragging this kind of discussion into your blog. BLECH!

  28. Jim

    Heck, you are retired. You don’t need to rush. Take time and enjoy the scenery!

    BTW, I doubt that there is a worse road in the US than I-64 between Charleston, WV and Lexington, Ky.
    It is absolutely awful.

  29. Krakatoa (East of Java)

    On rural freeways, I go 80 MPH for hundreds of miles. I’m going faster than 80 percent of traffic. The right lane is always filled with trucks and rvs barely going 65. I stay in the left lane, and it’s usually not a problem. Most people who wish to overtake are barely going faster than I am, and if there’s no slower r lane traffic, I get over. But if there is, and its significantly slower than both of us… no way. You’ll have to wait until we both clear it. I’m not unhooking cc and hitting the brakes
    if you’re just slowly coming up on me.

  30. Larry T.

    DRIVE RIGHT, PASS LEFT is the rule in Europe and the cops there will pull your a__ over for passing on the right. You seem to think it’s OK for you to drone along, blocking the left lane so you don’t have to tap your brakes and then re-engage your cruise control, but the fact that you inconvenience the guy coming up behind you doesn’t bother you in the least? YOU sir, are the reason I hate driving in the USA because far too many are inconsiderate, selfish, “left-lane bandits” who think they are somehow king of the road. This does NOT mean you must pull over and be sandwiched between two trucks going 60 mph so someone can pass, but you need to keep an eye on that rear-view mirror (in Europe some guys in a big, black Mercedes can come up on you going 200 kph while you’re going 130) and move over to let faster drivers pass…using the left lane ONLY when passing slower traffic. It’s kind of like stopping at red lights…if everyone does it things work pretty well but when some a-hole decides they don’t apply to him/her, things get ugly fast.

  31. Wildcat

    I agree with the left hand logic of Krakatoa (East of Java). When I get over to the right hand lane I get boxed in. If no traffic over there I will get over and let you pass on the left. Otherwise, fuck you fuck you fuck you. Wait the fucking 30 seconds it’s going to take me to pass this fucking semi-truck. Then I will get over and let your fucking bumper-sucking ass pass me. I don’t give a shit about you unless you have a K-State plate on the front of your car. And I certainly won’t do shit for anyone with an ugly ass Jayhawk plate. Fuck KU.

  32. Krakatoa East of Java

    First of all: Context. I’m only talking about long-haul, rural driving, and not in rainy conditions.

    I keep an eye on that mirror… all the time. I’m acutely aware of what’s in front of me and what’s approaching from behind. I weigh the absolute value of what’s going on. If a guy is approaching me with a 5-10+ MPH difference… and will pass me quickly, I’ll get over (even if doing so will require me to brake somewhat). That guy clearly deserves to have people get out of the way. But if a guy is approaching with just a minor difference in speed (what I’ll call “slight-cruise-control” difference), and there is a fairly regular amount of slower right-lane traffic, sorry, but I’m not getting over for that slight a difference. Why? Because my inconvenience in pulling over, slowing, breaking, getting stuck there (etc.) will GREATLY outweigh the inconvenience you will suffer in waiting the 10-30 seconds it will take for me to clear that cluster of vehicles and get over.

    If we’re talking 3-4 lanes in each direction, by all means, I’m not driving in the left lane unless I’m passing. But when we’re talking two lanes, one of which is often filled with long-haul truckers, sorry pally, I’m not King of the road, and neither are you.

  33. Joe Green

    Most contributors here seem to think regardless of the speed limit, the faster the car, the more it has the right to pass. I’m sorry, but if I’m doing 5-10 mph over in the left lane, the right lane is crowded, and a guy going way in excess of the speed limit zooms up on my tailpipe in a very entitled manner, well that’s his problem, not mine. At some poiint it becomes a issue of automotive bullying. When I get a chance I will move over, but his excessive speed does not somehow confer greater rights. Next time, leave ten minutes earlier dude

  34. euro

    To be retired implies that one has worked at a JOB for one’s adult life. Steve has played his whole life. Thus, retirement does not apply in this situation.


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