Winter Driving 101

So far this year Erie has had over 133 inches of snow this winter and I was “lucky” to be here for the lovely Christmas storm that left us covered in roughly 65 inches of snow. Here’s the thing about Erie, though, for some odd reason, we don’t know how to drive in the snow. How is it that we hold the record as one of the eight snowiest cities of the world yet as soon as there is so much as a single snowflake, people freak out and lose any driving knowledge they may have had? I’m just here to give you some tips to make your commute (and mine) a little bit easier. So buckle up and start reading so we can all stop riding our brakes behind you.

 

Taken 12/26/17 - my car is under there somewhere

 

1. First things first, and this is straight from my father’s mouth, make sure all four of your tires are snow tires. Yes, it is expensive, but it will make driving that much easier and could potentially prevent an accident.

 

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2. Know your vehicle. Figure out how best to operate your car in the snow and be ready to use it at any given time. When the roads are icy or if I’m having a hard time controlling the car/stopping, I shift into manual and adjust the “+/-” as necessary

 

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3. Stopping is usually the hardest part of driving in the snow. If you’re really struggling to stop and you’re getting dangerously close to a [busy] intersection, try and steer your car into snow that may be lingering on the side of the road. This will help your car gain some much needed traction. This little tip has saved me more times than I can count - though it's a pretty simple tip and incredibly basic, it is definitely something good to know.

 

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4. Before you get close to where you need to stop, whether it be a stop sign or a stop light, test out the conditions of the road so that you can plan your stop accordingly. What I mean by this is that you can test to see how icy the roads are by breaking when you’re about 10 feet away. If it’s really bad out, this will help you to come to a complete stop just in time.

 

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5. Over the years, I have learned that I sometimes find it hard to get going again after stopping for a period of time. This might just be my anxiety talking, but I am always concerned that I am going to lose control of my vehicle as soon as I start moving again and I’m going to end up hitting something - whether it be another car, a person, or a random object. In an attempt to avoid this fear becoming a reality, I have learned to steer in the opposite direction of the lane that I’m in if I notice that I’m kind of maybe a little stuck. Basically, what I mean by this is let’s say I’m in the left lane. If I feel my tires struggling and shifting more to the right, I turn the wheel so that they will take me more to the left. But like I said, that tip might just be my anxiety

 

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6. DO NOT BRAKE GOING UPHILL! You are making it so much harder for yourself and anyone behind you. Accelerate when you go uphill to avoid getting stuck.

 

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I could sit here and tell you all I know about driving in the snow and I could interview people and get their tips about driving in the snow, but it doesn’t really matter. When it comes to driving, the best way to learn is to just get out and do it. Relax, take some deep breaths, and eliminate distractions and you will be a pro in no time. All I ask is that you stop riding your break as soon as there is even a small flurry.  

 

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