January 31, 2008

Driving in snow

Last night I was driving home from a client's house. She lives less than 10 miles from me and it generally takes between 15 and 20 minutes to get home depending on traffic...and traffic lights (how is it that the lights turn red one after the other when you're running late?). Anyway, it had been snowing for a bit over an hour and there was about 3 inches of the white stuff on the ground. By the way, I live in Colorado. This is state that's known for snow (not as much or as often as people think...but don't tell anyone). So, you'd think that people would know how to drive in it. You'd think people would have a clue as to how their very own vehicles are going to react in the snow. You'd think people should figure that snow, no wheel drive and bald tires will lead to disaster. If the weather report says it's going to snow, you drive the four wheel drive or the boat with snow tires on it. You're just not going to go anywhere if you don't have a grip on the road. And the fact is, if you get stuck, everyone behind you will get stuck by default. But unfortunately common sense is really a rare commodity.

I have two cars. A front wheel drive, purple colored, sporty looking, two door car known affectionately as "My Saturn". It's 12 years old this year and I acquired it with 1700 miles on it. It blew an engine and then was recalled for that (how is it that my engine knew to blow before the recall when after would have been so much better?). It
now has 220,000 miles and several new parts on it. Sadly, it was broken into twice a little over a year ago which led to the rash, but researched, decision to buy an all wheel drive, deep red colored, luxury looking, sedan styled, four door car with a secure trunk, known affectionately as "My Subaru". It's now 4 years old and has almost 105,000 miles on it (the previous owner must have had a long commute...but really, Subaru's are known to last past 300,000 miles, so it's all good). Now I must admit, prior to acquiring My Subaru, I drove My Saturn for 10 winters and I stayed on the road. Mostly. Seriously, I can not recall when I last ended up in a ditch, but I'm pretty sure the only time I needed a push out of snow was when we were snowed into my old cul de sac neighborhood after a four foot dumping several years ago and a snow plow didn't arrive for three days. So I think I know something about driving in snow with a pretty average car.

Here are the keys to driving in a fast dropping snow storm. First, make sure you have good all weather tires (or snow tires) with decent tread. Put something heavy in your trunk if you have rear wheel drive (aka "no-wheel" drive). If you have front wheel or all wheel drive, the engine is heavy enough already. Second, if you're in slow moving traffic you should still give a couple of car lengths between you in the next car especially when going down hill
(although honestly, I have been known to leave less room if I suspect the HUGE SUV next to me is going to try to cut me off). Third, if cars are struggling going up a hill, it's actually best to wait for the car at the front of the line to clear the crest before the next one takes off and so on and so forth. This allows more room for each driver to get a running start up the hill without having to stop until they reach the top (unfortunately if you're on a multi-lane road the cars in the next lane might not understand what you're doing and jump over in front of you thinking that you're stuck too [pardon this second aside but...see how I think of the other drivers...as "cars"...very inanimate and with no regard for the humanity within...of course they're doing the same thing...]). I used this technique on a very steep highway off ramp many years ago after sitting for 20 minutes waiting for people to move. I was in a no wheel drive pick up truck, so I knew I'd get stuck if I didn't get a running start up the ramp without having to stop. I got out of my truck and spoke to 20 some drivers to explain the plan. It worked out great and half an hour later I was home in front of my fireplace. Fourth, if you're already at home and have a car that's crap in the snow, STAY HOME. Call in sick, skip dinner, wait until the next evening to visit your girlfriend (or boyfriend). They can stand a night alone (even if they are cold and lonely...and miss you badly...and you're horny). It's just not worth the extra aggravation you're causing your fellow human beings, not to mention getting stuck in a ditch.


RED MOJO said...

So,are you saying you got stuck in a ditch? It seemed like you were leading up to it, and and you ended with it, but somehow I missed the ditch part!
BTW you should copy your award over at my blog and post it over on the side of your blog. It's like a degree, people need to see it! :)

TheWeyrd1 said...

No...I did not get stuck in a ditch, some horny chick with vanity plates was stuck in a ditch...lol