Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Driving

My odometer attests to the fact that I drive A LOT. I try to be such a careful driver all year round--and I've had very few problems through the years despite some rather tricky situations. Two encounters with black ice this week have me thinking about safety (and automobile insurance rates.) While in a complicated skid today, those old winter-driving chestnuts of advice and caution were passing before my mind's eye: "Bridges are icy! Steer into the skid! Tap the brakes!!" Despite my good intentions, I managed to bang the guardrail a good one. These events have distracted me and put me in the mood to review reliable sources of winter driving tips to increase my cold weather driving repertoire. Since my intent is to promote health and wellness in this blog, I thought I'd share some the helpful links which emphasize winter safety.

The folks at the Federal Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado have compiled good information on their site, Consumer Focus: Winter Driving and Getting your vehicle ready for winter. Topics include driving in icy conditions, maintaining your vehicle in winter, and what to do if you are stranded in winter weather. Our big brothers at FEMA offer us similar advice on their page entitled, During a Winter Storm.

The coldest of the U.S. states typically publish winter driving advice somewhere on their state's ".gov" homepage. Each of the sites I viewed have implemented the Clear Roads Winter Safety Campaign, so the advice is very similar across the board. "Ice and Snow . . . Take it Slow" is the theme of the program--and it's incorporated into the hazard triangle logo (above). In implementing the campaign, some states have done a better job on their websites; offhand, I particularly appreciated the page created by the Massachusetts Highway Department.

I finally came across some advice that supplemented the standard winter driving tips, and it was located here at the Innovation Factory, Center_For_Safe_Driving. This advice made sense to me: "If You Start to Skid, Pick ONE Thing to Do. At any one time, only four patches of rubber the breadth of your hand are in contact with the road surface. Sure, you can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time and you normally can expect the same from your tires. But when you enter into a skid, the fight is on to regain traction as quickly as possible. Steering, braking and accelerating all demand their share of the scarce friction between your tires and the slippery road. By concentrating on just one thing at a time, you increase the chances of regaining control of your vehicle. Unless you have no choice, concentrate on steering first and always steer INTO the direction of the skid regardless of what your instincts are demanding."

Really, it's all common sense. Either stay home or plan to take your time; drive with headlights on in a well-maintained automobile; and drive SLOWLY. Be careful!!

I know that teens know everything already, but SOMEONE might benefit from this video:

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