Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tips for driving in Iowa winters.

Ok so we have our first good snow storm of winter and of course people are driving like idiots. Here are some tips for driving in Iowa during winter.

  • Do not fear the ditch. Drive carefully and shouldn't end up in the ditch anyway, but if you fear it you are going to panic when you hit an ice patch and lose control for a moment, and when you panic you might do something stupid that ends up putting you in the ditch or worse. Drive with confidence and don't fear the ditch and you shouldn't panic and it will help you avoid the ditch.
  • Drive the right speed. The speed signs no longer really apply in winter as you will likely never get going that fast anyway. Don't drive to fast, but also don't drive to slow. If you feel you can only drive 20mph stay off the interstates because that is still to slow usually.
  • Be courteous to your fellow drivers. This really should apply all year but it applies doubly so during winter. If you piss off the other drivers on the road they are more likely to do something stupid which could adversely effect you. Prime example, on the way home last night there was someone that what to go faster than the car I was riding in was driving. When they tried to pass they spun out and ended up sideways across the road with more traffic approaching them. They had never managed to even get beside us, but what if they had? For the record we were probably going a little to fast for the road conditions as it was last night and still we had idiots like that guy trying to pass us.
  • There are still two lanes. Even if you can't see the lane markings anymore, they do still exist and you need to stay in your lane. Don't drive down the middle of the road.
  • Mind the gap. Leave a larger gap between you and the car in front of you, and behind you if you can manage that, though sometimes you have an idiot following you who still thinks it's summer and he can stop on a dime. If you can let these idiots pass you so they aren't behind you anymore.
  • Slow down well before you have to actually stop. You can't brake and stop in short distances anymore without sliding into the intersection. You have to slow down ahead of time.
  • Carry supplies. At the very least you need a blanket in your car in case you have to spend anytime in the ditch before you can catch a ride. Extra change of clothes, some granola bars and water are some other nice things to have just in case. I'm sure there is a list out there for just what all you should have in your car in case of emergency, but I feel the most important is a good warm blanket. Also note that unless you can access your trunk through your back seat, you need your supplies in the back seat where you can get to them. In an accident you might not be able to get into your trunk.

I had a few more thought up while I was driving to work yesterday but I can't remember them now. All that said, I did drive carefully on the way to work and still managed to ditch my car. It was on a cloverleaf exchange between two interstates and my car just started to slide off the road. I made the decision to not try to correct it because there was traffic right behind me and I didn't want to end up sideways in front of them. Less than a minute after I went off the road a girl drove her car off the road right behind my car. It was just that slick there. I got a ride to work in the back seat of a sheriff's car, so I can't no longer claim I've never been in the back of a cop car. There was a state patrol car that drove her where ever it was she had been heading. Luckily no one was hurt.

Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there for people to think about. I'm sure there are better more thorough lists out there on the Internet. Everyone drive safe out there.

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