Tuesday, February 23, 2010

snow-day driving

Today was another "snow day" in Central Texas. I wish folks would drive sanely in this stuff. It's not a lot different from driving sanely in the rain, just more extreme. Nobody around here drives sanely in the rain, either. Proof: local accident rates skyrocket whenever it rains.

Key: slow down, you need a lot more time to respond to trouble, and traction is bad.

Key: stay farther away from other vehicles, you need a lot more space to respond to troubles, and traction is bad.

Key: turn on your lights, all colors are "stealth" in poor visibility conditions, even reds and yellows.

Advice specifically for pickup drivers: reduce rear tire pressures in bad traction conditions unless you are fully loaded. "Softer" tires break away less. (I have a pickup, too. This really works!)

Key for icy bridges: slow way down BEFORE you reach the bridge. You have to see what's on it, and still have time to respond.

If the bridge really is icy, here is practical advice on how to move over it (in priority order):

(1) slow down under 30 mph (under 20 is even better),

(2) put your wheels in prior wheel ruts where the ice is thinner and softer, and

(3) cross the bridge in a straight line coasting (no power, no brakes).

This stuff worked for me driving without chains, in two 100-year-record Minnesota winters. I never, ever had a problem, much less an accident. That was a real education for a Texas flat-land boy, too!

However, I will admit that keeping my Texas plates as long as I could helped me stay farther away from all the other vehicles. (Everyone else was scared to death to come near me!)

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