Posts Tagged ‘Winter Driving’

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Fancy Plans Guide to Winter Driving

December 14, 2009

Nothing makes hazardous winter driving easier than snapping away with your camera.

Winter is here. The temperature has dropped and the roads are deadlier than ever (and I’m including Maximum Overdrive). Here’s a quick guide on the do’s and don’ts of winter driving. Remember, being prepared might mean the difference between life and a short period of inconvenience.

So, how can you tell whether roads are safe to travel? Well, there are many resources including local news, Department of Transportation web sites and the traffic chopper. However, these reports may be as accurate as advertised as weather conditions can change rapidly during the course of a winter storm (and only in one direction: from bad to worse).

Use this simple test to determine whether roads can be safely travelled:

Do you have to work today?

  • Yes (see A.)
  • No (see B.)

A. NO. Roads cannot be safely travelled. [Skip to the end of this post.]

B. YES. Roads are safe to travel. [Continue reading.]
(Note: the quickest way to make a road safely navigable is to call in to work. Once you are unable to make it in to work [A] you will automatically fall into category B.)

Here are some key areas to focus on:

Low visibility often results in exciting rounds of "Car Tetris."

Low Visibility
Heavy snow and high winds will often bring visibility to under 100 feet. Here’s what you can do to combat “whiteout.”

1. Be proactive. Make sure others can see you. Turn every vehicle light on. Headlights, fog lights, high beams, hazard lights, etc. If you think it might help, go ahead and fire up the hazards and dome light. The better lit you are, the better your chances of not being hit by Speedy Joe Jackass.

Those of you with aftermarket products may also consider turning on every neon light/LED attached to your Hyundai. [see below]

Of course, the trailer itself remains dangerously underlit...

2. That takes care of people seeing you. But what about you seeing them? We can never safely assume that the other drivers will light themselves responsibly, much less give two shits about anyone but themselves.

So, to get back on point, what can you do to improve your odds of seeing other vehicles? You’ve already got all YOUR lights on so you’re probably seeing the road as well as you ever will. Maybe you could squint a little or try “visualizing” the road ahead. (It works for world peace. Or so said that bumper sticker attached to that bumper you just collided with.)

These, of course, are for your nipples.

Emergency Road Kit
Should you happen to end up in the ditch, freezing river or 12-foot tall snowbank, you’ll want to be prepared in case you have to wait several hours for rescue vehicles. (Well, maybe not the river. We’re talking hypothermia in a matter of minutes once you get wet. In this case, make sure your will is updated and you’re Satisfied-Very Satisfied with your progress in life so far.)

An Emergency Road Kit should contain the following:

  • Flashlight
  • Flares
  • Matches
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothes
  • Food
  • Water
  • Booze*

*optional

(Notes on booze: While it may seem immediately beneficial to have some available alcohol to combat cold and boredom, there are several drawbacks:

1. Alcohol does not actually keep you warm. It only makes you feel warmer. However, with a good buzz, “feeling” warm may be enough. Try to refrain from removing your clothes or wasting precious battery life calling up your exes.

2. When the highway patrol finally rescues you, it is probably better if you don’t reek of booze. Sure, you’ll get a free ride to somewhere warm, but your personal belongings will be scattered to inconvenient locations several miles away from each other. (For example: you – jail, your house – right where you left it, your car – impound lot.)

3. The effect of alcohol on your decision-making skills may result in very ineffective actions, like sticking the flares in the exhaust pipe to see if you can “blast” your way out of the snow, shoving the blanket into the gas tank and lighting it for some “continuous” warmth or exposing yourself to the cold/other drivers. (Not to mention all the drunk-dialling you’ll be doing.)

No matter what the weather is, Jack Nicholson is always on the lookout for speeders.

Drive Slowly
Generally speaking, winter driving means road conditions will vary from “unfavorable” to “wrath of God.” As you travel across snow-packed and icy roads, you will notice there is a fundamental disconnect between where you think you’re steering and where your vehicle is actually heading. This often leads to accident reports containing ridiculous phrases such as “The car seemed to have a mind of its own. Like Herbie. Or Christine.”

This particular strain of black ice will also torch your vehicle, much like a drunken hockey fan.

Black Ice
A common winter death trap is the fiendish act of God known as “black ice.” Black ice is a hardy winter predator which mimics a clean, dry road surface and will attack passing vehicles, sending them into the nearest ditch, guard rail or oncoming vehicles.

Due to its invisibility, warning you to “look out for black ice” is much like asking you to plan your next accidental pregnancy. You won’t realized you’re fucked until after you’ve “hit” it.

-CLT

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