Driving in the rain: pro tips from 'Mad Max' stunt driver

FILE: Driving in the rain? We share some tips from a professional stunt driver and invite you to tell us about your commuting nightmare.
FILE: Driving in the rain? We share some tips from a professional stunt driver and invite you to tell us about your commuting nightmare.
Stock photo by Daniel Lee/Flickr Creative Commons

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Next time you're on the freeway and it rains torrents as it did in Southern California Monday, take a deep breath and slow down.

Professional stunt driver Jim Wilkey has flipped a big rig for the Batman movie "The Dark Knight" and drove in the latest "Mad Max: Fury Road" movie. So rain-slicked roads? They're nothing for Wilkey. 

"I've done car chases in the snow, on sand — you have to adapt to whatever condition you're in," he said.

We turn to him for some tips for local drivers, who can't be blamed for lack of experience driving in drought-plagued California:

Slow down: Wilkey says the most common slick-road driving mishaps, such as fish-tailing and loss of traction are all caused by excessive speed. Even when he films car chase scenes for Hollywood blockbusters, he rarely tops 35 miles per hour, especially if the surfaces are wet.

Don't panic: “If you find yourself in a hydroplaning situation, don't slam on the brakes. Just gradually ease off the gas."

Have a good feel for your car: "Car control is all about being in tune with when you need to adjust your speed, your steering."

Keep your car in good condition: Don't wait until the road is already dangerous to make sure your tires have tread and your windshield is clean.

The unusual winter weather this week also brought hail down on some parts of Southern California.

While many tips for safe wet weather driving apply when there's hail, you can take some specific steps while driving when cold, hard bits of ice hit your windshield.

The California Highway Patrol advises:

• Watch your speed: Decrease speed and increase following distances just as you would when driving in wet weather.

• Pull off the freeway: If hail is coming down hard, exit the freeway and travel at slower speeds or pull to the side, preferably under an overhang or protected area. High car speeds compound the impact from hail on windshields and could lead to damage.

• Protect your car: If you must drive through hail, angle your car so that the front and back windows take the brunt of the impact since they are reinforced and side windows are more vulnerable.

• Stay in your car: Do not get out of the vehicle while hail is falling.

• Keep control: Because hail can make the road icy, brake slowly to maintain traction. If you start to lose control, take your foot off the gas — don't brake — while you correct the steering.

Do you have a frightful commute? How did Monday's rain affect your drive? Leave us a comment below or tweet us @KPCC.

This story was updated.