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Driving in a blizzard? Here’s what to do (14 Gifs)
With the winter storm that’s hitting the East Coast of the US, and the future snow storms, whiteouts and snow days ahead of us, it seems that as soon as there’s a sprinkle of snow, drivers become asshats. They panic, they forget all the fundamentals of driving and they make your commute worse than it needs to be.
So, we shouldn’t have to say this, but here are some tips for driving in the snow and not being a bitch about it.
Let’s start with the most basic of rules:
Rule#1: Just because it’ snowing, doesn’t mean you need to lose your shit
It’s snow, this is Canada. It happens every year around this time and it doesn’t change the rules of the universe, physics still exists and the apocalypse is not here. It’s frozen water, it’s soft and fluffy and you can walk it it, catch it on your tongue, help your fellow motorist, or throw it at people that piss you off. Most importantly, you can drive it it, quite easily.
Rule #2: Don’t forget how to drive. Nothing’s different
Nothing has changed from your drivers test. The gas and brake are still the same, your car still does the same things, it still has four wheels and hopefully heat. You drive to the conditions, check your mirrors and stay calm. You don’t put on your flashers, drive at 5km/h, and grip your wheel like it’s going to randomly jerk away from you. If this is the same commute you make normally, then you know how to drive home. The road and route hasn’t changed. Just watch out for the other guy and be more aware, that’s all.
Rule #3: Be more casual when you accelerate
When the light hits green, don’t hit the gas to get home more quickly, gradually hit that accelerator, give your tires a chance to grip and go on home. This will prevent your tires from spinning on the loose snow.
Rule #4: Drive at a reasonable speed
I know you want to get home, get your Netflix on, but this is an important one. I know you think you do this anyways, but in snow, really do it. Unless there’s a lot of traffic dictating the speed, try to stay at least 10 below the speed limit to give you some control. This allows for enough time to stop, room to move around, and for the love of God, don’t get pissed off at someone else who’s driving slow. We all want to get home safe.
Rule #5: Watch out for the other guy!
There used to be this traffic reporter who always said “Watch out for the other guy!” You can be the best driver in the world, but it takes one moron to take you out. You may ignore this every other day, and tailgate and weave and treat the road like you’re Mad Max, but in snow, just be chill, man. Give the car ahead of you 8 seconds of space, so that if they do something idiotic, they don’t take you with them.
Rule #6: Pick a lane, be its friend, play nice.
It’s about not making any more turns and moves than you have to. If you can stay in one lane all the way, great. Minimize the potential to get fucked up. If you’re driving faster than everyone else, and you need to be moving around cars, maybe reassess your priorities. Do you want to be wearing a lamppost like a hat? Did you want your car to end up ass-first in a ditch. Didn’t think so. Don’t be a hero, or an idiot.
Rule #7: Decelerate more gradually too
Let the car do the braking when you can and anticipate when you’re gonna need to stop. Don’t leave it until the last second, or else you’re gonna miss your stop/the traffic lights/your turn, and then there’s a situation. You end up in an intersection, or against a guardrail, or kissing the ass-end of the car ahead of you, and without buying them a drink first, that’s just rude. Start the slow down early, so you have enough time to react.
Rule #8: Or maybe don’t stop if you can help it
If you start slowing down early enough to let the car do the braking, maybe you’ll get lucky and the light will turn green before you get there and you can coast on through. Or if you see cars stopped ahead of you, start early. Maybe they’ll move. May not always be the case, but just give yourself the option to do it safely.
Rule #9: You can brake or you can turn; don’t do both at the same time
This is how you end up with a busted car and an expensive call to CAA or a garage. Most of the wrecked and spun-out cars are from people that are trying to stop and turn and their momentum and lack of traction takes them right past their intersection, in to a ditch. This is the same route you always take, so anticipate the turn and coast into it. You’re not Dom Torretto, you can’t Fast and Furious your way into driving home in the snow.
Rule #10: Don’t be an idiot on the hills
Hills are the worst when it’s slippery; when there’s nothing to grab on to, how are you supposed to make it up? It’s all about momentum. Give the cars ahead of you some space and build up a little speed and if you can make it up the hill without accelerating, you’ll be fine. The more you make your tires spin faster than the conditions allow, the more potential there is to lose traction, then it all goes to hell.
Rule #11: If you start to slide or spin, just relax
I know it’s easier said than done, but if you freak the fuck out, you’ll make it worse. If a skid/slide starts, the worst thing to do is to crank your wheel and pump the gas and brake like you’re a drummer for motley crue. Just breathe deep and take it slowly. Talk to your car calmly, if you have to. If you’ve been following the rules above, you should have enough space and time to regain control. If you were driving like a dick, then maybe this will serve as a lesson in humility. Think of this calm penguin.
To regain control, moving smoothly and deliberately, looking the direction you want to go (rather then where you’re sliding to) and turn the wheel that way. Don’t brake, but perhaps tap your accelerator to give your car some traction. Once you have control, pull over at the next 7-11 and freak the hell out. You did it!
Rule #12: This one is obvious, but if you come across someone who’s spun out or off the road or needs a push, be a good Canadian and get the fuck out and help
It’s karma, and we’re a civilized society. Help where you can, because someday, you’ll need someone to do the same.
If you follow our suggestions, you’ll make it home in one piece without taking out a family of polar bears with your distracted driving and you can grab that cold one, and be a winter driving hero.
Think of it this way. Han said it best, “Just fly (drive) casual”
P.S. Also, isn’t driving into a blizzard like going into hyperspeed? Be cool. Be like Han.