Sliding Through The Snow

One minute you are driving along thinking it’s not too bad, in a flash everything changes the car swerves, your first reaction to hit the brakes made it worse and you slide into the ditch hopefully without crashing into something. None the less your whole world now goes into to crisis mode, or does it? If you had a small child in the back seat perhaps they said, “That was fun mommy, can we do it again.” One thing is for sure whether your a child or have a child’s heart sliding through the snow can be a fun experience or tragic. Where is the fine line between adventure and tragedy?

  1. Triple yes triple your following distance, and the point at which you begin to break; on ice even more than that. I feel so strongly about this that if someone is any way tailgating me I will pull over and let them go on past me.
  2. Slow down yes, but keep up enough momentum and speed to go up hills, not by powering up the hill but by approaching the hill with enough speed to keep even on the accelerator going up it. The cars creeping at 10mph get stuck going up the hill. Finding the right speed is critical, often it’s around 25-30mph when it’s really coming down.
  3. Don’t hit your brakes when you see that ice patch, do swerve to miss it either. Straight and easy, no sudden moves.
  4. Never Ever Use Cruise Control.
  5. Don’t stop if you can avoid it, especially on a hill, try to anticipate light changes and adjust your speed so you never have to come to a complete stop.

Don’t get on the roads unless you, ‘have to’ is the conventional wisdom, but where is the adventure in that. I’m not saying get yourself into something you can’t get out of but, maybe there is some fun to be had and education for that time you do have to. Not a half mile from my house is Regan High School’s Parking lot and closer than that is the First Christian Church’s. How about carefully making your way over there and have an adventure and learn something about how driving in the snow feels. Slam on going slow slam on the brakes to feel what its like to slide and how to correct a skid. Carefully start off fast to feel what that’s like. Maybe even do a donut. From a standing start turn the wheel all the way and step on it a bit, (CAUTION!!! In a very clear area with lots of room and not too fast.) Experience is a master teacher and confidence builder and some day you made need those skills.

On the other side of adventure is tragedy. Wrecker drivers will tell you that there are more 4Wheel drive SUV’s to be towed in bad weather than any other vehicle. That’s because 4Wheel drive has no more stopping or handling ability than any other car in many cases less handling. Snowy icy driving has much to do with experience and understanding momentum.

Always bring along some emergency supplies Here’s a good list I did a couple years a go. Knowing a few things about your car in bad weather is also helpful, what are it’s strengths and weaknesses. Here’s my take on those.

Typical 4×4 SUV, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Blazer, Explorer: have Fairly good traction their weakness: Handling and Stopping.

Front Wheel Drive car or van: OK traction, fairly good if it has traction control. Handling is fairly good, weakness is stopping.

Rear Wheel Drives, Especially Pickups: Poor traction, Poor handling, Poor stopping.

In every case ‘chains’ really help especially in the stopping category, snow tires are also helpful in many places as not only are they more tread worthy, they have softer rubber to get better traction.