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Driving Tips for the El Niño Winter

An El Niño weather pattern has been predicted for the United States this winter. It could be one of the strongest in U.S. history, according to some reports. The effects are expected to last through February.

According to U.S. News,

El Niño occurs when a shift in winds leads to warmer water in the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean than usual. This typically and eventually brings rain from the Pacific to North America.

Here’s a brief video to help you understand El Niño:

Many Southland residents are rejoicing at the thought of rain to help alleviate the drought, but with more rain comes the risk of flooding and mudslides, so it is important to prepare. Click here for some tips on preparing your home for El Niño.

It’s not only important to prepare your home, but to be aware of safety concerns while driving in rainy conditions. Orange County doesn’t get much annual rainfall, but when it does rain it is often heavy rainfall, accompanied by heavy winds.

Here are our driving tips for the El Niño winter:

Inspect Your Vehicle

  1. Check your tires. It is important to have tires with good tread on them, as wet roads can be slippery and you’ll need good traction. Your tires should have at least 50% of tread life in them in order to maintain contact with wet roads. If they don’t, it’s time to replace them. Also, check your tires to be sure they are inflated properly. Underinflated tires won’t provide good traction and can result in hydroplaning.
  2. Replace your windshield wipers. This is an inexpensive precaution that can have a big impact on your safety. Visibility is key when driving in rainy conditions. You don’t want to find out the hard way that you need new wipers!
  3. Check your brakes. Wet roads make the importance of having good brakes even more crucial. Have your trusted mechanic inspect your brakes and replace worn brake pads right away. Be aware that cold, wet brakes don’t function as well as warm, dry ones, so drive cautiously: keep your speed down, your eyes on the road, and increase your following distance so you have plenty of time to respond.
  4. Check your lights. Rainy season (and winter) means fewer daylight hours. And if it’s rainy, it’s always a good idea to have your headlights on. Make sure your headlights and tail lights are working so that other drivers can see you clearly, and see when you’re stopping ahead of them.
  5. Check your battery. If your car battery is 3 years or older, have your mechanic check it. If it’s 5 years or older, consider replacing it before it fails.

Driving in Wet Conditions

Driving Tips for the El Niño WinterKeep a safe distance between yourself and other cars. A good rule of thumb is at least 2 car lengths’ distance.

Follow posted speed limits, and go slower when the roads seem slippery.

Always use your turn signal. Visibility is poor in rainy conditions, so be helpful to other drivers by always signaling for turns and lane changes.

Take turns with caution. Wet roads and tight turns don’t mix.

No sudden maneuvers. If you miss a turn, just on until you can safely turn around.

Keep your headlights on when it rains. Again, visibility for yourself and others is crucial to safety in rainy conditions.

Always wear your seat belt. 

Keep music to a lower volume. That way you can hear skidding, horns beeping, or sirens. You need to keep all your senses running at optimum capacity in hazardous conditions.

Remove all distractions and focus on the road. No cell phone talking or texting, no loud music, no fiddling with the stereo, no eating, etc. Keep your hands on the wheel and your focus on the road.

Drive defensively. Anticipate what drivers around you might do and be proactive. Be cautious and patient with other drivers.

Other safe driving tips:

  • Do not use cruise control in wet conditions.
  • Be aware that it only takes a fraction of an inch of water to cause hydroplaning.
  • It only takes 6 inches of water to float a car.
  • If you skid, put on the brake and turn your wheel in the direction you want to go.
  • Accelerate slowly and decelerate slowly.
  • Put an emergency kit in your car. Include snacks, water, matches, a first-aid kit including a pocketknife, blankets, warm clothing such as hats and mittens, a tow chain or rope, a fluorescent distress flag, and a flashlight and battery-powered radio, with extra batteries for both.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged when you go out in rainy conditions, in case you need to call for assistance. If you have a car charger, bring it with you.

(Source: Nerd Wallet)

Stay safe this winter!

Step 1. Complete our online driver’s education course

Register for our online driver education course. After you complete the required chapters and tests, we will then send you the DMV Certificate of Completion (DL387) that you can take to the DMV when you are ready to take the written test for your learner’s permit.

Our online driver ed course is available to all California residents. You can take our course at your own pace, in your own home in your own time.

Step 2. Study for the DMV written test

You will need to study for the DMV written permit test by reading through the DMV California Driver Handbook. It will benefit you if you take your time and study the handbook so you are comfortable with the information that will be on the test.

Take your time, you don’t want to have to go back to retake the test.

Step 3. Make an appointment at the DMV to take the written exam

It is important that you call ahead of time and schedule an appointment at the local DMV so you can go in and take the written test.

The lines at the DMV are usually very long so you don’t want to waste your time waiting in line. Make sure that you are well prepared for your appointment.

Most DMV’s are open Mondays through Fridays until 5 pm; Some are also open on Saturdays for a few hours so call ahead of time and see which date and times are best for you.

Step 4. Bring necessary documents to the DMV office

  • Complete the application form DL 44, remember the DMV always requires An original to be submitted. Copies will not be accepted in any form, so make sure you have exactly what you need. You can get this form from your local DMV.
  • Have your parents or guardians sign the application form DL 44.
  • Give your right thumbprint.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security #
  • Verify your birth date and legal residence
  • Submit the proper form(s) for Driver Education and/or Driver Training (see below for details)
  • Pay the $28.00 application fee (This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both the instruction permit and the driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.)
  • Pass a vision exam, if you need glasses, wear them.
  • Pass a written test, there are 46 questions on the test.
  • You need a passing score of at least 39 correct answers.
  • You have three chances to pass the test. If you fail, you must wait 7 days before taking it again.


Driver Education and Driver Training Form Requirements:

If you are 15  years of age, you will need to bring with you:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education) with form DL 391 (Driver Training Enrollment ) if your school has a contract with a driving school.


  • Form DL 356 or forms OL 237 and OL 238 (Completion of both Driver Education and Driver Training)


  • Submit form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 15 but under 18 years of age, you will need to submit:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education)


  • Form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 17  but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.

Once you pass your written test, you will be issued a provisional permit. You can be issued a permit at age 15, but you cannot take the driving test or be issued a driver’s license until you are 16 years of age.

A parent, guardian, spouse, or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver’s license, must be with you when you drive. They must sit in a position that allows them to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone at any time.

Before being eligible to take the driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed driver education
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver’s license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.


If driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools form DL 33 completed by the out-of-state school or a letter on the out-of-state school’s stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses are equivalent to California’s requirements. Instructional permits issued by another state are not acceptable

Step 5. Complete behind the wheel training

When you pass the written exam:

  • You are required to take your first 2 hours of behind the wheel training with a professional driving instructor.
  •  You may start behind the wheel training with your parent/guardian or other licensed drivers who are 25 years of age or older.
  •  You must further complete four (4) more hours of driving school instruction.
  • Complete fifty (50) additional hours of behind the wheel training with a parent/guardian or any other adult who is 25 years old or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify that you’ve had the 50 hours of practice. It is required that 10 of the 50 hours of training is done in the evening.

Step 6. Take the driving test at the DMV

To be eligible to take your driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed a driver education course
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult who is 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.
  • You will also need to show registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle you will be taking your drive test in.
  •  If you fail your drive test, you must wait two weeks before you can take the test again. You have three chances to pass.
    • Driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee is $6.00.
    • Motorcycle driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee $6.00.


After you pass your drive test you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.

If you have not received your license after 60 days, call (916) 657-7790 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

Step 7. Receive provisional license upon passing the driving test

After you pass the Driving Test, you will be issued a provisional license. Your license will have the following restrictions for the next year: During the first 12 months, you are licensed to drive you must be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or if you have passengers under the age of 20 in the car at any time.

Persons under 18 may not be employed to drive a motor vehicle. When you become 18, the provisional part of your license ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your photo license, which will expire on your 5th birthday after the date you applied.