Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ice, Ice Baby!

I have a 50 mile commute to work each day, from Fulton to Paducah. It usually takes about an hour. Today it took all of THREE HOURS because of black ice on area roads. As I started out this morning, roads were just starting to ice in Fulton County. As I started down the Purchase Parkway at a blazing 25 mph, I made sure to leave my cruise control OFF, and leave plenty of room. Sure enough, a red Chevy Aveo shot by me at around 60 mph. I said to myself, "I'll see you again later." I did. About 3 miles down the road. He had spun 180 degrees and gone down an embankment. Luckily, he missed the trees and the guardrail.

My friend in the Aveo was not alone. I must have seen 25 wrecks along the way, and actually witnessed 4 of them. Perhaps the most ironic were the three guys who ran their four-wheel-drives together. Four-Wheel-Drives are cool, but on ice it's merely 2 more tires spinning out of control.

To be honest, I wouldn't have gone to work at all but needed to get to the transit for a public hearing. I knew it could be a tough commute because I had checked the forecast myself before I left home. Nothing against the TV Meteorologists, but I still trust myself more than anyone else when it comes to meteorology. I guess it caught some of them off guard, because they didn't start issuing "alerts" until I was an hour and a half into my trip, and had seen a dozen vehicles in the ditches and into the guardrails. Black ice, of course, can cause a fender bender for even the best drivers, but the novices don't have a chance.

Here are some Winer Driving Tips:

Tips for driving in the Snow & Ice:

  • Don't use the cruise control!!! You hit a patch of ice and INSTANTLY lose it. Don't believe me? Give it a try. Please wave at me as I pass by and I'll call the KSP for you....no charge.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Appling the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for retraining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning - nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety in front will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don't stop if you can avoid it. There's a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until the light changes, do it.
  • Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don't tempt fate: If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
  • Stay Away from ME! (OK...I made that one up....but I'd really like it...)

No comments: