The recent spate of apocalyptic snowiness, while awesome for students trying to buy time to study for finals, has revealed a stunning lack of locals savvy to driving in the snow.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, (back east…) there were plenty of opportunities to get practice, so my Steve McQueen-esque skills, while appearing totally natural, are in fact from years of experience.
Fair enough, you guys have an excuse for being terrible at driving on ice and snow. You just don’t get that much around here. But the level of pinball occurring on the roads right now is scary. I’m confident in my ability to not crash into a tree, but not in your ability to not crash in to me. So let’s review a couple things:
Don’t Over-Steer It
When you turn on an unexpected piece of ice, the wheels don’t grip and thus the turn is not proportional to how much you’re turning the wheel. So rookies like yourselves will frequently turn more. I could get into a whole sciency thing here, but just trust me. This is a mistake. As soon as the front wheels hit pavement again and regain their grip, you’re taking off in the direction they’re pointed. And if that’s a 90 degree angle, guess who’s about to flip over? Just don’t over steer things, and see where it takes you. Nine times out of ten it’s preferable to the alternative. Of course one time out of ten you take out a roadside homemade hat stand…
So ten times out of ten, everyone’s happy.
Brake Yourself, Fool
Just know what kind of brakes you have. If you’re driving almost anything built in the last 20 years, you’ve probably got an anti lock brake system (ABS). In which case, use them. Don’t pump your brakes like an out of control maniac. Let the ABS do its thing and hold firm. You’ll feel some shudders, not unlike the ones you get from society when you go out wearing that shirt (you know the one I’m talking about…), it’ll feel like the car is bucking under you like a bronco. Especially if you’re driving a Ford Bronco (who are you OJ?). This is the ABS doing its thing, applying and releasing the brakes so your wheels don’t lock up and you maintain as much control as possible. They will actually increase your stopping distance in snow though.
It’s Okay, Go Slow, I’d Rather Be Alive
In fairness, I might be back here a few issues from now yelling at you all to speed up, but for right now, don’t be afraid to go slow. The roads are gnarly, and without salt on them, you could be cruising on a hockey rink most of the time. It’s okay to take it down to 15 miles per hour, or even less, if you’re not sure you’ll be in control.
I mean, we’ll all beep at you, but let it slide off your back. Don’t cause an accident because you feel pressured by the traffic backing up behind you.
You’re going to of course want to use common sense when going up a hill. 15 MPH may be just enough to keep you from spinning out, but it may aslo be just enough to send you sliding backwards into my car. Not cool bro. But if it’s icy enough for this to happen, you should probably just stay the hell away from hills.
Don’t Pray at the Altar of Technology
There are actual studies showing that reliance on superior technology has made us more careless drivers. I shouldn’t even have to explain what a horrible time it is for this particular brand of malarkey.
Even if your car is supposed to beep when you drift out of your lane, you do have to be very careful on snowy roads. For the love of god, don’t text while you drive. And don’t rely on alien future tech to bail you out.
Unless it’s ABS brakes. Trust those. They are better than you. Almost nothing else is.
by Ygal Kaufman