|Tips For Driving In The Snow|
In eight years as a truck driver, Shawn Judge has driven 810,000 miles (without accidents) in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin for a beverage distributor. Here is his advice on how to handle yourself when the snow starts to fall:
Breathe and stay calm. Panic causes people to overreact. You need to concentrate.
Drive as fast as your skills and vehicle capabilities allow for road conditions. If you’re out of practice on snow and ice, slow down. If your tires are bad, slow down. If your car has a low ride height, it won’t handle snow buildup well. Again, just slow down.
Your actions must be controlled and deliberate. Harsh acceleration, harsh braking and sharp cornering decrease traction. Maintain a steady speed, widen the distance between you and the car in front, and be gentle on the brakes. Drive smoothly and remember that inertia will be a factor.
Let there be light:
In bad weather conditions, turn on your headlights. This is so other drivers can see you. Your taillights will also be brighter.
Use your signals:
Here’s a trucker’s rule of thumb for changing lanes: dry or rainy weather (not icy): three blinks, then move three blinks. Winter weather: four or five blinks, then move slowly. Signal turns before you start to slow down.
If you are going significantly slower than surrounding traffic, activate your warning signals in all four directions, get into the far right lane, and let everyone pass you. Hazards let other drivers know you are going slower than they are, and this can help prevent a pile-up.
Notice the tire spray:
Pay attention to water coming out of the tires of other vehicles. If there is a lot of dew, the roads are wet. If there is less dew and the road is wet, take extra precautions; the road is starting to freeze. If the road looks wet with little or no spray, you’re on black ice. Extremely cautious sea.
Look at the truckers:
When the weather is bad, if the big trucks are slowing down, so should you. If they’re succeeding, maybe you’d better take a break too. In no way do I recommend keeping up with them. (We’re kind of a crazy breed with the advantage of more weight, more road clearance, more tires, and bigger tires.)
If visibility is zero (ie you can’t see beyond your hood), don’t stop where you are! You will be hit. Proceed slowly until you can safely get your vehicle off the road.
Exit ramps generally open after major roadways. Rest areas are cleared after that. If you need to pull off the road, wait in a gas station parking lot, a 24-hour restaurant, or a hotel. You have a better chance of not getting stuck in the snow.
Traction is everything:
Loss of traction in snow/ice conditions doesn’t happen because you’re on ice. It means that you are gliding over an almost microscopic film of fluid water (in a transition state) between the ice and the surface of your tires. The lack of cohesion in the fluid severely reduces friction, resulting in less traction.
Make sure you have all-weather radial or snow tires with wide, deep tread valleys. Grooves (small cuts that look like wavy lines) in the tread lugs help with grip on packed snow and ice.
When is it riskier to drive in cold weather?
You face the greatest risk of losing traction on snowy and wet roads when temperatures range from 22 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. In cooler temperatures (10 to 20 degrees or below), snow and ice covered roads offer more traction than in warmer temperatures (22 to 35 degrees).
Do not you believe it? Try this: Take two ice cubes. Put one in a deep freezer for 30 minutes. Drop the other into a glass of water. Try to pick it up with your fingertips. Do you realize how slippery it is? After 30 minutes, take the other ice cube out of the freezer. My bet is that it will probably stick to your fingers for a while.
The same principle applies to driving. Ice is almost sticky in extreme cold. But during slower, heavy traffic, more heat is applied to its surface and traction will be reduced proportionately.
Ultimately, you are responsible for exercising your best judgment. If the weather is bad, stand still and let the road crews do their job.
Be safe out there.
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