It’s raining! It’s pouring! The collision rates are soaring!

Sacramento-area traffic becomes incredibly chaotic when water begins to fall from the sky. Thousands of vehicle accidents happen to reckless drivers as well as overly cautious drivers when it rains, and with storms coming in short sporadic bursts throughout the year, rain is without a doubt a major driving hazard. Slick roads and decreased visibility are the two major factors in what causes collisions during the Sacramento rainy season. Short of wiping down the roadways, there isn’t much that motorists can do to stop the roads from becoming slippery when wet. However, we can do something to improve visibility and road safety.

Maintaining windshield wipers is a crucial part of vehicle maintenance for anyone driving in the rain. Wiper blades are made of thin strips of rubber that work as squeegees to remove water from the driver’s line of vision, adjustable to various speeds to keep the windshield free of rain and debris.

But windshield wipers deteriorate and wear out, and as they degrade they become less and less effective. It’s not the use of wipers that causes them to break down. In fact, it’s the off-season that the driver must worry about. Hot California summers are extremely hard on the thin rubber strips that coat the blades. Heat can cause the rubber to dry up and crack, resulting in breaks in the blade when it’s time to perform. UV rays also affect the flexibility of the blade, which can result in stuttered lines across a rain-soaked windshield. Then when the rains begin and you need your wipers, they’re not ready for you.

As summer ends and winter rains, it’s a good idea to check, replace, or even upgrade your windshield wipers. Most auto parts stores offer guides to assist you in looking up replacement blades specific to the make and model of your vehicle. Many blades are designed for easy replacement with snap clips or small push tabs to release the old blades. Always consult your vehicle maintenance manual to find the correct wiper blade replacement strategy. Changing blades before you need them will give you the confidence needed to face the hazards of a rainy commute.


  • Author: Penny Rivers
  • Originally published: April 21, 2012
  • Word count: 445