I come from North Alabama, so I'm familiar with the problems driving on snow and ice. It's that one idiot out there who thinks (s)he can drive 50 MPH on snow that causes a problem. Perhaps some tips for drivers would be in order in addition to the sound guidance, "citizens are encouraged to stay off the roads today." I just vacationed in the Nevada mountains where they got 4 feet of snow in the week I was there, so here are my tips for driving on snow:
- SNOW IS SLICK. ICE IS FOR HOCKEY. Snow is much slicker than rain on the street. You can control your car, but the slick snow must be respected. Ice is another matter entirely - it is absolutely treacherous. On ice, go straight and do not apply gas or brake. You have no traction on ice. (If we have a big ice storm, do not take a trip involving turns or acceleration.)
- TEST BRAKING. Get going 10 MPH, check behind you to see nobody is there, and try stopping quickly. You will skid and probably swerve. Let off the brake until you're not skidding. Pump the brakes if you want to stop a little faster. Learn the limits of your vehicle. Be aware that it is much harder to stop going downhill than on level ground, and on a steep hill, it may be impossible to stop.
- TEST STEERING. A simple curve in the road can be treacherous on snow and worse on ice. Know how your car behaves in snow, and be prepared for it to slide around.
- STEER INTO THE SKID. To regain control of a skidding car, steer into the skid. Once you have control, decide whether it is best to turn more gently or try to stop. Allow plenty of space around your car in anticipation of skidding. It will happen.
- DRIVE SLOWLY. 20 MPH is about as fast as you ever want to go on a snow-covered road, and then only when the road is perfectly clear of obstacles as far as you can see. Watch far ahead of your car. You will need the extra distance to respond on the slick snow. Make all movements slowly and gradually.
- IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN. If you get stuck going up a hill, you may be able to back up and try the approach again a few times.
- LEARN TO DRIVE. Allow yourself plenty of time to get accustomed to driving in snow. Driving in snow is very different from driving in rain. In rain, the vehicle sometimes skids. In snow the vehicle frequently skids. Be patient and go especially slowly at first.
- LOOK OUT! The driver who doesn't know these things is right around the corner unwittingly aiming for your bumper.