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Snow Driving Advisory


If you're driving on snow, here's what you need to know.

Do everything gradually. Accelerate gradually, brake gradually, turn gradually, straighten out gradually. Leave more room between you and other cars.

Momentum will let you get up slippery hills. Going slower and slower just ensures that neither you nor the line of people behind you will ever get up the hill. Assuming you have the visibility to do so safely, it's okay to run lights and stop signs if it lets you keep up the speed you need to not slide to an icy death.

If you do start to slide, first take your foot off whatever pedal it's on, then do your best to straighten out and slow down - in that order, and GRADUALLY.

Just because it's getting warmer and the streets look clearer does not mean that they are safer; especially if the temperature is hovering around freezing like it was today and will be for the rest of the week. That just means that the slush turns to water and refreezes, often in thin invisible sheets collecting at intersections and under bridges.

Headlights do not suddenly become optional just because snow is white and reflects more light. Also, white != transparent: BRUSH THE SNOW OFF YOUR DAMNED HEADLIGHTS.

And for the love of all that's holy, if you're using chains, TAKE THEM OFF when you get to a cleared road. I don't care if it's a pain in the ass. You risk breaking them and shearing a hole in either your tire or someone else's windshield. Not to mention the damage you're doing to the road.

Finally, expect that everyone else on the road is a seventeen-year-old-boy from Arizona in an ancient pickup truck; that they will slide and swerve and cut you off without the slightest clue that they are endangering everyone around them. Expect this, don't emulate it. And then you can be pleasantly surprised when someone is nice to you, actually, y'know, showing the supposed spirit of the season.

I expect everyone reading this knows all this already. Hell, I would have thought after a week of this stuff everyone in the PNW would know it; but appearances on the roads indicate the contrary. And 3-6" more coming tomorrow. Be careful out there.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 24th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
And as we saw this evening...
Clearing the snow away from a small circle on the drivers side windshield is not just dangerous and stupid, but in most states it's so beyond illegal that they will hopefully put you in a cell with a guy named shiv who's going to bob you.

Clean the snow off your ENTIRE windshield or in my opinion your car is not drivable, leave it at home and walk. Preferably in front of traffic.
Dec. 24th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
Re: And as we saw this evening...
Hell, clean the snow off your entire CAR.

If I had a dollar for every time I've been stuck behind someone driving down the highway with drifts of snow flying off their car this past week, I'd be able to buy myself a latte. For srs.
Dec. 24th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Can I add to that: don't stop in the middle of a hill...just don't!

Says the person who got stuck behind a complete and utter moron in her complex...
Dec. 24th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
If people are not used to snow, one thing they might not think of is clearing snow off their car that does not obstruct their vision. When they're driving, any big clumps of snow still on their car will come off at random moments and may hit other cars and obstruct their view. This one is really non-obvious unless it happens to you, but the person off whose car the snow came may still not know. It's one of those things about snow driving that I wouldn't expect everyone to figure out after a few days of heavy snow in a city that usually doesn't get any.
Dec. 24th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
P.S. Love your icon ;)
That is all.
Dec. 24th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
Thank you for the well-written explication of effective snow driving technique. Clearly you have been there. Personally I like the model of imagining your brain is on speed and your body is on 'ludes -- extremely hyper awareness coupled with extremely attenuated response. If you behave that way you're less likely to do a hugely dumb thing. Most folks have the drugs going to the opposite parts.

I have been driving here for >25 years now and have only seen the very slightest improvement. It's been a number of years since I've seen a VW bug in the on-coming lane frisbee across 4 lanes of traffic and take out the guy behind me. I think the primary problem is that people don't get to spend all winter honing their skills as we did in Chicago (& points East). I suppose I wouldn't be much of a pilot if I only flew 5 or 6 hours every other year.
Dec. 24th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
We had to go to the grocery store to buy eggs tonight and as I was going in I saw 3-4 people IN A ROW get stuck and swerve and slide all over a nasty icy bump in the driveway. Now, I got stuck at that exact same spot after the '96 storm, so I understand how it happens. But when you are sitting in the street waiting to turn in and each of the two cars in front of you spends an entire minute trying to negotiate two yards of territory (and then slides sideways several feet after doing so), wouldn't you think to yourself "maybe I will use the other driveway down the block, this one is clearly problematic?" Apparently you would not. We were scofflaws and parked across the street in the covered lot with no snow at all, knowing getting to the store on foot would be easier and safer than navigating that parking lot.
Dec. 24th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
One of my friends summed up the driving part of it in one, short, helpful phrase.

"Drive as if you don't really have brakes."

And it kinda works. You know you have them. You hope they work, but... doesn't always.

But getting up icy hills? OY. That's what first gear and a little luck is for, truly.
Dec. 24th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Good advice. You know, something I'm noticing is that people who drove like this at first (so they presumably know this stuff) are driving like fools now - I think it's stress.
Dec. 24th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Excellent points! I would add...
1. Carry a beach towel in your car to wipe off fresh snow before you leave home. Do this before it freezes and turns to ice on your windows and headlights. Then you don't have to scrape as much or try to drive with the limited visibility similar to a small tank window.
2. Windshield wiper check! Replace as needed.
Dec. 26th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
And yet, up here in New England, you'd think most drivers would have a modicum of a clue about driving in winter conditions.

They don't.

In fact, EVERY snowfall is met with a "ZOMG SNOW!! I FORGOT HOW TO DRIVE MY CAR!!!" When I have to out in the snow, I don't worry about my driving... I worry about the other MassHoles on the road...
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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