So here in the Midwest, many, many people are gearing up for another round of bitterly cold wind and more snow. This, according to the news, can be equated to a small apocalypse. "MIDWEST UNDER SNOW!" "MIDWEST TO GET HIT BY MASSIVE ICE STORM" "SNOWMAGEDON PART 2!" "ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATO'S!"
(SWEET JESUS THEY'RE SENTIENT!!)
Ok, so that last one didn't happen this week, but with the sensationalism of the media for what amounts to be about 2-3in of snow, you could seem them trying to throw that one in for good measure. The entire media circus is due to what I would consider a lack of understanding on how to drive in inclement weather. These massive pile ups, and thousands of crashes and accidents aren't truly caused by the weather. Listen folks the weather has been pretty much exactly the same since you started driving. Snow is snow, rain is rain, and sleet just sucks. However, snow hasn't turned into Lava that will melt you and your car, sleet is still just slushy snow, and rain isn't going to peal your face off, except maybe if you are in China.
(The rain seems to be tingling my face...oh god is that my skin peeling off!)
Now for those of you that just moved from a tropical climate to a more seasonal climate, where snow, ice, rain, and sleet happen, I forgive you. You don't know how to drive in this weather just yet, however, for those that have been driving in this for their entire lives, you have no excuse and should finally learn how to drive during the winter months like a sensible human being. If by chance you think you know how to drive in this weather and then somehow end up pointing the wrong way on a highway or rammed up the bumper of a semi and think to yourself, "well, I am still a good driver, the weather today is just terrible" then in my opinion, you got what you had coming to you because you don't actually know how to drive in these conditions.
I will say most accidents never need to happen, and are caused by drivers doing very stupid things while in a car. For the purposes of this article I am not going to cover all of those stupid things such as; texting, making phone calls, putting on makeup, eating, or any of the other thousand things people do in their cars that make it completely unsafe, those have already been covered at length in countless articles and PSA's.
What will be covered is some short driving tips for winter driving for those uninformed and those that desperately need a wake-up call on how to drive in inclement weather that can save you from having an accident in the first place.
(Dudebro shown here in its natural habitat)
4WD and AWD-For those of you that have big SUV's, trucks, and cars with AWD, having it doesn't mean you are invincible, that the snow and sleet are your little monkeys that you can make them wear funny little hats if you deem it so! I see more trucks and SUV's in ditches or along the side of the road then I do normal cars. 4WD and AWD strictly mean that you have added traction due to the fact that you have all 4 wheels turning and searching for grip. With just a 2WD car, you have only 1 set of tires attempting to either push or pull your very heavy car along, 4WD and AWD both push and pull the car forward, thereby giving you the added benefit of all the wheels doing something to give you enough traction to move forward. While this added traction helps in forward momentum, it does not mean that you have superior braking. In fact if you have a SUV or truck, in the snow you have even worse braking than you normally would, which is normally pretty terrible. "But Jonathon, how can this be? The manufacturer showed us pictures of SUV's and Trucks plowing through snow banks and they weren't dying or crashing?" Yeah they do but it is never in traffic and never with others around them, it is always in the back roads or in a field somewhere where they aren't going to hit anything and don't need the brakes. Braking still is managed by the same brakes that stop the car normally which tries to stop the rotation of the wheels, this means in slushy or snowy situations, the brakes are attempting to do their job, but on a semi frictionless surface and will lock your tires up, and put the car into a skid, which can cause accidents. Skidding I would say is the primary actor in accidents during this time of year, which brings us to the next actor in causing accidents.
FOLLOWING TOO DAMN CLOSE FOR CONDITIONS!!!-If it is snowy or slushy or icy, stay the hell back. During normal everyday driving, braking usually happens fairly quickly, and can stop a car if necessary in a very short distance. In the last tip, braking was covered and the fact that you have brakes that don't work as well as they would on a dry surface means that your braking distance and therefore distance between you and the car in front should increase. Now, I am not going to tell you how much that distance should be because it depends on the conditions, speed limits and many other factors. Use your best judgement, maybe one or two cars more than you would normally leave between you and the car in front depending on the conditions you encounter. Too close, combined with a lack of sufficient braking cause the most accidents during this time of year.
(Not what I had in mind but ok)
Snow tires-Snow tires are a great investment if you have the money to invest in them. They work very good in these types of situations. However, they should not be considered the Holy Grail or somehow make your car invincible in snow and sleet like 4WD and AWD is also considered. It is a tool and should be used as one. You must use a tool properly and in conjunction with other tools, they give you a better tool-belt in which to tackle the problems. While I do suggest you invest in a set of winter tires, I think better driving and better understanding of how your car acts during these types of situations is monumentally more important. Without the knowledge of how your car reacts in this weather, snow tires imparts a false sense of security and therefore can still lead you to have accidents. And as winter tires can be very expensive, you can get along through the winter without them so long as you know that you can't go as quickly or as effectively through the snow.
(You don't have to be an old lady for this next one to apply)
IT'S SNOW FOR GOD'S SAKE!- For those doing 25mph under the posted speed limit, for what can only be described as a light flurry, get the hell off the roads. I am not even going to give you a normal "you should be driving like..." tip. If you don't feel confident in your own driving to be doing closer to the speed limit, stay off the roads, all you do is infuriate people and cause more accidents than those going fast. Just stay home. Please.
So take this and please use the tips, I would rather not see more crashes and people killed this season. For those that don't and say you are like a modern day Walter Rohl, I will laugh my butt off at you as I pass you in a ditch.
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