Driving Snow?

Too many car accidents this winter

Though many indications are to the contrary, it is almost spring. Although perhaps it is a little late to be talking about winter driving, I must relate that when listening to 911 Center calls lately, I am appalled by the number of car accidents in snowy weather. The body shops must be doing a bang up business.

Two, no three, reasons come to mind. People are driving too fast, and they are following too closely. The third reason is the snow itself. It also strikes me that many of the vehicles lying in the ditch are SUV’s, or other four-wheel drive models. Now why should that be?

Contrary to what some drivers seem to believe, four-wheel drive does not enable you to go faster in the snow; four wheel drive will enable you to make it through deep snow if you happen to go off the road, or if the road hasn’t been plowed. But the same rules of driving in the snow apply: slow down and keep your distance.

I learned to drive in Virginia, which is infamous for the way people behave and drive in the snow – that is, like complete idiots. However, my father, who taught me to drive, was from the land of mountains and snow in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he knew how to drive in winter weather. “Driving” snow is a contradiction in terms; it refers to the snow, not to automobiles.

I am happy to review some of his pointers:

Drive with a steady hand on the wheel and foot on the accelerator. Sudden moves and accelerations will send you sliding. If you want to accelerate, do so slowly and steadily.

Slow down before attempting curves and turns, not by braking, but by taking your foot off the accelerator, and then turning the steering wheel slowly -- much less than when on a dry road. You want to use your car’s momentum to gently glide, and steer into the turn.

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