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Tips for travelers on their way home

It just keeps raining. Your drive, or transit ride or walk this evening will be nasty. See the list of problems below.

John B. Townsend II at AAA Mid-Atlantic has some good advice: "Motorists should slow down and increase their following distance. When rain falls at this pace, motorists in our area tend to drive too fast or slow down too much."

These are some basic rules for the wet road:
-- When driving on pothole-filled roads, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control. Just a few of inches of water can turn your vehicle into a boat.
-- Slow down and increase following distances. Visibility is reduced and braking distances increase in the rain. On dry pavement, a safe following distance permits 2 to 3 seconds for stopping; that should be increased to 8 seconds on slippery roads.
-- Train your eyes farther down the road than normal, so you can anticipate changes and adjust your course gradually.
-- Alert drivers behind you that you're slowing with your brake lights.
-- When driving during heavy rain, use center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where the water collects at curbside.
-- Use low-beams to help other drivers see your car and increase visibility.
-- Turn off the cruise control. On wet roads, it can cause hydroplaning.

My own advice: Whether you're driving or walking, take into account all these wet, slippery leaves. Drivers, the most dangerous part of your commute tonight may come when you reach your neighborhood. Leaves that property owners piled up so carefully last weekend were scattered by the winds and now lie in wait for you across many residential streets.

Transit riders
There are no Metro rail or bus delays as we approach 5 p.m. But remember that the arrival times you see on the Next Bus information system can be thrown off by the traffic congestion this weather causes. While walking to the bus shelters, remember that the rain and twilight make you less visible to drivers.

Metrorail riders, this is the sort of day when the transit authority policy of stopping all trains at the ends of the platforms is most inconvenient if you're waiting on an outdoor platform. But you may find it easier than normal to get a rush hour seat if you set your face to the rain and walk beyond the overhang just as the train is arriving.

Bay Bridge
Wind restrictions are now in effect. House trailers, empty box trailers and other vehicles subject to strong winds are prohibited from crossing. Also, two-way traffic will not operate on the bridge during this afternoon's rush hour.

Inner Beltway
Ashley Halsey III reports that the Virginia Department of Transportation is again advising drivers to avoid using the inner loop of the Beltway near Falls Church tomorrow morning after this morning's water main break. VDOT officials say only three of the five lanes would be open to traffic during the morning rush.

Route 249
According to a press release, the Maryland State Highway Administration has closed Rte. 249 from the bridge at St. George Island south. The road is barricaded and officials are only letting local traffic through.

Traveler links
-- Our traffic page.
-- Metro's bus and rail alerts.
-- VRE's train locator page.
-- MARC's train tracker.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 12, 2009; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Weather  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, tips for travelers  
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John Townsend can certainly be counted on to state the obvious (who made him an expert on anything?). Although, I must admit, I agree with him 100% on this one.

Posted by: ceebee2 | November 13, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

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