Are You Taking Along The Three C’s Of Winter Driving?
Okay, I am still shaking after a "too close for comfort" incident a few moments ago. On my way to the station, a middle age gal in her Lincoln Navigator was driving 55-60mph in a 40, couldn't stop in time to NOT run the red light and came within 4-5 feet of t-boning me. Yep, the season is here.
The shoulders of US-131, I-96 and I-196 will look like a snowy parking lot, loaded with disabled & stuck vehicles. Growing up in the Motor City and driving semi-truck, I know how Michiganders like to drive during the summer... AND the winter. But as you know, there is always that month-long period between the first freezing rain and the roads being snow covered for a few weeks. During this period, many forget that on icy and/or snow covered roads, you need much more stopping distance. Also, you CAN NOT pull into traffic with oncoming traffic 10 feet away, traveling at a fair rate of speed, because 1) your traction is FAR from what it was a few weeks ago on dry roads and takes longer to get up to the speed of other flowing traffic. 2) Those oncoming vehicles CAN NOT slam on their breaks to slow down (or in some cases come to a complete stop), as you are sideways on 28th street with your tires spinning. Most all of us are guilty of following too close to the bumper of the car in front of us (tailgating) to the point of being able to clearly read the numbers on the dashboard of the said car we are behind. After years of being a Firefighter-EMT, the sights & sounds of accident scenes makes me a bit tense, but none the less, I HATE WINTER DRIVING! (and the fools who think they are invincible because they have a large truck with four wheel drive).
The Michigan Department of Transportation actually has a facebook page (yeah, I laughed too), but it contains updates on bad roads & other helpful information "on the fly" www.facebook.com/MichiganDOT , also, on the MDOT website they offer some GREAT tips!
If you do find yourself beginning to slide on snow or ice, DON’T PANIC.
1) Take your foot off the gas and DO NOT hit the brakes.
2) If your vehicle begins to skid, (do not brake) and steer the vehicle in the direction you wish to go. This technique is used in both front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles.
3) If you must use the brakes, in ABS-equipped vehicles, use a firm, steady pressure WITHOUT pumping.
4) If your car is not equipped with ABS, gently pump the brake pedal without locking up the brakes.
And the next one is for my before mentioned friends who believe they are accident-proof in a large SUVs or 4X4 pick-up trucks...
Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts are reminded that although a four-wheel drive vehicle provides some additional traction in non-ideal weather conditions, drivers of these vehicles should take the same precautions as if they were driving in a non-four-wheel vehicle.
Being a resident of Traverse City for 23 years, I am far from the perfect winter driver, but every year I witness SO many accidents that could have easily been avoided. One doesn't need to be a physics major to understand... "large, heavy mass of metal traveling at a decent rate of speed does NOT stop easy, especially on slippery roads."
In conclusion, take along with you the "Three C's of Winter Driving", in which are pretty easy and should be used EVERYTIME you get behind the wheel, no matter what season it is. No matter what type of vehicle you drive.
Caution, Courtesy, (and most importantly) COMON SENSE!
Face it... what's worse? Getting to where you are going 3 minutes, 21 seconds faster, or slamming into another motorist, being stuck in an accident scene for an hour, getting your vehicle towed, paying an insurance deductible, AND receiving a citation for "too fast for road conditions"??? You do the math.
What are you doing to prepare yourself for the winter driving season? Do you have any more tips? Lets chat about it!