Man About Menifee: Rain Makes Safe Driving a Priority

By David Baker

I remember my first car. It was a teal 1993 Ford Escort four-door sedan. It had a five-speed manual transmission, four cylinders, and got around 27 or 28 miles to gallon on average.

I think a lot of people could probably tell you a lot about their first car because it represents a lot of other firsts as well. A whole wide world of possibilities seems to present itself.

I can remember the first time I picked a girl up for a date. I remember the first time I stayed out all night with my friends. I remember the first time I helped somebody move -- which would be way easier with the truck, by the way.

Of course there were more than a few firsts I would rather forget. I remember my first speeding ticket. I remember the first time I had to pay for a significant car repair. And I remember my first automobile accident.

It was around this time of year, raining like it is now, and I had my drivers license for a little over six months. I was driving past the local movie theater. I thought I saw somebody I recognized, so I turned my head just for second, and yes, it was a girl. I turned my head back forward and there was a small Toyota pickup truck stopped, presumably to make a left turn. I slammed on the brakes but due to the recent rains, my car hydroplaned and continued right into the back of the Toyota.

I remember being in a slight state of panic. I remember calling my folks and exchanging information with the other driver. Most of all, I remember feeling disappointed.

We've reached that time of year when Menifee, like most of Southern California, is experiencing its first significant rainstorm. Drivers should use my story as a learning experience.

You see when we drive, our cars secrete various oils and petroleum products that soak into the semipermeable asphalt of our roads. When the first serious rains hit, the oils float to the top of the water and that makes our roads extra slick. Already, there have been multiple serious vehicle collisions on our roads over the past couple of days.

When I took Alexandra to school on Thursday, I saw the tail end of yet another one at the corner of Newport and Murrieta roads. I wasn't able to gather all the details, but the picture spoke volumes. Two police officers were watching a car get loaded up onto a tow truck and the front end of the car was smashed. Whatever the car had hit had already pulled away and there were flares directing traffic around this car.

When you join other drivers on the road this week, leave some extra stopping distance. Make sure your windshield wipers are in proper condition, your tire treads are good, and you turn on your headlights -- not so you can see in the rain, but so others can see you better. Above all, be safe and enjoy your holiday.

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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