Driving in Snow

Right now, where I live is being covered with snow. Forecasts are calling for around ten inches. As it started coming down around eleven o’clock, we were allowed to leave work early. One of my co-workers was mentally already on her way home. She’s one of those people who panic with the first snowflake. “Ack! There’s a quarter inch of snow on the ground! I’m not going to be able to make it home!” We tease her about it (and how she’s always checking the various weather services to get the absolute latest in forecasts), but nonetheless she is usually the first one out the door when bad weather hits, and the person most likely to not make it in when there’s any amount of snow or ice around.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with driving in snow. As long as the roads are reasonably clear and visibility is decent, I can make it out. Even with my small car.

It’s just a matter of following a few easy rules.

1. Clean off all the snow from your car. And I mean ALL. Not just the windows, but the hood and  roof. Not only do you improve your visibility, you don’t really want clouds or chunks of snow blowing off your car into the vehicle behind you. While it is certainly cold outside, you still want enough air moving around your radiator. So clean off the grill. And do not forget your head and tail lights. The latter so people following you can see your signals, and the former to improve your own visibility. Even in the daytime, you have to be able to stop in the distance that you can see. Keep your headlights clean to help improve that distance.

2. Cut your speed in half. If you would normally drive down a road at forty miles per hour, go down to twenty. You will be better able to control your car, and you’ll have more time to react to things happening in front of you.

3. Add at least one extra car length of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Chances are they aren’t as good a driver as you are (right?), so you’ll need the extra room if they start skidding.

Of course, if things are so bad that they start shutting roads down and strongly advising people to stay at home, then you stay at home and off the roads. In my decades of driving, I can recall only three times when I’ve lost control of my car in snow and ice. And none of them resulted in damage to either my car or myself.

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