It snowed last night. About an inch, maybe two. Not the blizzard the weather person was insisting was going to transpire, but enough to make driving a bit hazardous. I think of cars and trucks, especially those with four-wheel-drive, to be nothing more than torpedoes waiting to find their target. I know I can drive in snow. I’ve been doing it most of my life. I know most other people haven’t got a clue.
Rule number one: Having a four-wheel-drive vehicle does not help you stop faster on an icy road. We’re all going to be able to bring our vehicles to a stop the same way. By slowing the fluffy down, pumping the brakes even in those fancy electronic brake-assist vehicles, and saying a little prayer that you stop sliding before you hit the bumper of the car in front of you. This is NOT the time to be driving faster than everybody else because you have better traction. This is NOT the time to try and merge your car into a lane with a split second decision blinker. And, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES!
Rule number two: If you don’t have any experience driving in snow, or you worry about driving in the snow because you grew up in Southern California, stay the fluffy home. I mean really. Driving ten miles an hour and stacking up traffic for miles is not helping anyone. Someone is going to be following too closely and SLAM ON THEIR BRAKES!
Rule number three: Stay the fluffy home. When the weather person, and the news-anchor, on the early morning news, tells you that officials are urging you not to drive unless absolutely necessary, this does not mean to brush off your car and try to score a torpedo hit. This is not the time to be playing snow driving “Battleship.” “A-Blue Toyota.” HIT! Some of us really have to be out here.
Rule number four: Stay the fluffy home, at least until the sun comes out and slushes up the roadway. Major streets will be drive-able by early morning. I promise. Unless it’s still snowing out and then, you guessed it, you should stay the fluffy home.
Rule number five: Brushing off just enough snow to give you a porthole to see through is not good enough. Start the car. Put the heater on full-blast to the defroster setting and brush off the car. Flying snow “blocks” from the roof and hood of your car do not help the drivers following you, or passing you, AT ALL!
Rule number six: Emergency brakes DON’T help you stop at an icy intersection. We used to call them emergency brakes, now they’re known as parking brakes, but they do the same thing, keep your car from rolling WHEN YOU’RE PARKED!
One snowy day, when I was in high school, I tried to drive my 1956 Chevy station wagon home. It was snowing pretty heavy like it often does in northern Wyoming in the winter, and they had let us out early. There was a good foot of snow on the ground. I brushed off a porthole so I could see, and I backed out of the space without a problem. But I couldn’t go forward. I could go in reverse with ease, but as soon as I slipped the column shift into first, the car wouldn’t go. I backed out of the parking lot and made it to the main road, and turned the car around. It went down “High School Hill” without much of a problem. When I got to the bottom of the hill, sliding to a stop, the car wouldn’t go forward. I put it in reverse, and again it moved with ease.
I drove the car, backwards, all the way home. Driving down the right side of the street in the wrong direction, but it was the only way the car would move. When I got to the house on Burkitt street, I backed into the curb on the side of the house. (We lived on a corner lot.) Then I reached down to pull the emergency brake, and…the brake was already on. It was engaged the whole time. So for future note, cars don’t go forward well in the snow, or otherwise, when the emergency or parking brake is engaged. They will go backwards, though, it seems.
I rarely engage the parking brake on vehicles now. There has to be a good reason for me to do it. My wife does it automatically, so when I get in her car to drive, I’ve more than a few times, driven down the road trying to figure out why the car won’t seem to go. It’ll go, but then a thumping sound will start coming from the back demanding that the parking brake be released. “WTF is that noise?” Happened just the other day.
Rule number seven: DO NOT STOP WHILE GOING UP A HILL! Another part to that rule would be not to follow a car up a hill in the snow that has a California license plate on their car. I’ll expand that to include cars with Texas, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona and Georgia license plates on their cars, but they have no business being here in the winter anyway. Just because the car starts to slide a little does not mean you should apply the brakes. You will SLIDE BACKWARDS! Into me. Keep going. Turn in the direction of the skid, and keep going. Step on the gas. Keep going.
By the way, four-wheel-drive trucks with lift-kits, that think they can stop better than the little red sports-car that slid through the intersection this morning on a red light, are prone to flipping over on an icy road when they slam on their brakes. Just thought I would share that useful information.