BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s no secret that driving in the rain can be a headache, and it seems every year motorists have to relearn what it takes to remain prepared and safe on the road.

According to the Department of Transportation, there are approximately 1.2 million weather-related vehicle crashes every year, leading to, on average, nearly 6,000 fatalities and more than 445,000 injuries. It’s clear we could all use a little refresher when it comes to navigating those slick roads this season.

This time of year, the roads are more slick due to a build up of oil on the roads after a long, hot and dry summer. Also, fallen leaves tend to build up and clog storm drains and curbside gutters, leading to roadway flooding.

Remember, when approaching a flooded road — “turn around, don’t drown.” Never drive through flooded roadways, since the condition of the road under the water is unknown, which can damage or even disable your car.

Some reminders for driving in the rain, especially this time of year, are as follows:

  • Ready your vehicle: check your vehicle’s battery, wipers, coolant, tires and other systems that are most affected when the temperature drops. Make sure your tires have good tread. When you know your vehicle is ready for the road, clear your car of snow, ice or dirt from the windows, forward sensors, headlights, tail lights and backup camera.
  • Stock your vehicle with a winter supply kit that includes: a mobile phone, charger, batteries, blankets, flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, high-calorie, non-perishable food, small can with waterproof matches and candle to melt snow for drinking water, sack of sand or cat litter for traction, shovel, windshield scraper and brush and battery booster cables.
  • Get the weather forecast and check road conditions. Your drive will be much safer if you know what’s ahead. Change your plans if travel is hazardous.
  • When driving, stay alert. Make sure you keep your gas tank over half full and keep a close eye on road conditions, which can change rapidly. On road trips, take breaks often so you can stay focused on the road.
  • Drive slower than normal, and leave more room between you and surrounding vehicles. Do not use cruise control, brake quickly or make sharp turns. You need to change how you normally drive.
  • When it snows, “don’t crowd the plow.” The road behind an active plow is safer to drive on. Give them plenty of room to work and only pass when it is safe to do so.