Driving In The Snow (A Refresher Course)

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The chill of winter is in the air in my neck of the woods.  We’ve had some snow flurries, but haven’t had to face any accumulation as of yet.   But it won’t be long until we awaken one morning to beautiful snow covered lawns and meadows and not so beautiful, but equally snow covered roadways.  It seems that no matter how much advance warning we have of the impending storm, the City and State forces can never manage to get the major roads cleared in time for rush hour. It also seems that despite living in an area that receives snow each and every winter, drivers have to re-learn winter driving each and every stinkin’ year.  So I thought that, before we’re faced another snowy season, I’d give out just a little advice.

  • Slow down, you idiot! Snow tends to be just a bit slick, especially around curves.  And while there’s nothing I enjoy more than having a car carrying an “ obviously professional” driver blow by me on the highway at 80 mph, only to see that car in a ditch a mile up the road, for the sake of your safety and mine, turn it down a notch.
  • Don’t go to the other extreme.  There’s no need to go 20 mph on a freeway that’s been plowed and salted.  If it’s above freezing (and it usually is when there’s any significant amount of snowfall), the road is just wet.  Keep some distance between you and the car ahead of you, but that distance typically doesn’t need to be five city blocks.
  • Ice really doesn’t give a **** about your 4-wheel drive, okay?  For some reason, people in 4-wheel drive vehicles think that because they give you traction in snow, they also give you traction on ice. WRONG! Nothing gives you traction on ice outside of maybe snow chains or metal cleats.  I would think after being the guy in the ditch (see my first point above) enough times, you’d have a pretty good grip on the concept by now.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. 

  • Have four tires on your car! You laugh, but some people must be reminded.  I recall a few winters back trudging my way to work on a freeway covered with about 6 inches of snow.  It seemed that the left lane was actually moving slower than the other two lanes. I’m sure that pissed off the guy who wanted to go 80 mph.  At any rate, I soon discovered the source of the hold-up. In the left lane, going about 10 mph was a very nice BMW with a completely flat tire, riding on three tires and a rim.  I am guessing because this was a BMW driver, he did not feel he needed to follow the safety standards that we mere mortals do. I still wonder, to this day, if he ever made an effort to get off the freeway, or at least onto the shoulder.

If you live in an area that gets all four seasons as I do, I hope you will find this information helpful.  The next installment will be about driving in the springtime on wet roads. I’m thinking of naming it “Why Does Even the Threat of Rain Cause People to Drive Slow?” or “How to Back Traffic Up For Five Miles by Spitting out the Window”. HAPPY DRIVING!!!

                © 2009 – Andrea J. Shannon


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