Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Driving in Snow: Rules and Recommendations

Snowed Road
A downhill ski piste otherwise known as a snow covered road in the Seattle Metro district

I'm at a total loss to explain what happens to the brains of drivers in Washington State when it snows even a little. Somehow their grey matter turns to slush or some other gloop that is incapable of cognitive function. Overall the collective IQ seems to drop by 50 points or more at the hint of a snowflake. In the past week we've had a considerable snow fall in this region and driving has been challenging, to put it mildly. Now even making allowances for inexperience and nervousness, some of the antics I've observed over the past few days have been inexcusable. So here are my top 10 recommendations for getting around in an automobile in winter conditions (some of these have been derived from experience and empirical experimentation driving like an idiot when 18 years old):

1. Keep your foot off the brakes if the car starts to slide: use the cadence braking technique -hit the pedal with a series of short taps
2. Remember that if you have a 4 x4/AWD vehicle it does not mean you are automatically glued to the road
3. Don’t drive too fast (especially you AWD people!)
4. Don’t drive too slowly -overly timid driving not only causes other drivers to be frustrated but you might be impeding a vehicle that is desperate not to lose momentum climbing an incline in front
5. Do not tailgate: you need 4-5 times the stopping distance of dry conditions
6. Turn traction control off, sometimes you need a little wheelspin to get going
7. Keep your foot off the brakes if the car starts to slide
8. Use the handbrake, (don’t try this with those worthless, foot-operated “parking brakes”) to slow your approach to a junction: this will scrub off speed without risking locking the front wheels: only do this when the front wheels of the car are pointed straight ahead
9. Don’t assume because you have right of way at a junction or a traffic light that you should proceed blindly ahead -this is a good way to get T boned by somebody in a slide or with locked brakes
10. Keep your foot off the brakes if the car starts to slide –did I mention this before?

P.S. Note to pedestrians, cross-country skiers, snow shoers, toboganners, snowman assemblers, carol singers, assorted wassailers, reindeer and jolly fat men in red tunics: don't bloody well amble down the centre of the road because I may not be able to stop even if I'm using the above techniques!

No comments: