Driving under normal conditions is stressful enough but when you throw in the occasional snow and ice we get here in Nashville for the few days in the winter, it won’t surprise you why our Northern neighbors poke fun at us. We simply don’t know how to drive in the wintry conditions like they do. I spent a year in Greenland driving a huge mail truck every day but that was over 100 years ago (actually 40) and I don’t consider myself an expert on how to drive in the snow/ice when it occurs. I don’t really think anyone is an “expert” because that would require someone behind the wheel with at least a dash of common sense. When you live in Nashville (or most any Southern cities) you see the knuckleheads on ice – and I’m not talking about an ice skating show at Bridgestone Arena.
The main thing I see is that drivers refuse to be cautious. If their wheels are turning, they think it’s good to proceed as normal – which is scary to begin with. ice on the roads is no one’s friend and is very unforgiving regardless of what kind of vehicle you are driving.
I dare say that there are guys driving four-wheel drive trucks who incorrectly assume they can drive on anything since but what they underestimate is that when they hit icy patches that all four wheels can slide just as easily.
So what are the proper tips for driving in snow/ice conditions?
- Before you get on the road, make sure you clear off any snow or ice on your vehicle. Don’t just jump in your vehicle and take off. Accumulation of snow and ice can not only obstruct your views but could also be a hazard for other drivers when it falls off of your vehicle. It’s annoying when you get an unwelcomed snow shower from another vehicle.
- As you approach a hill, allow your car’s momentum to take you up instead of pressing on your gas. Then when you reach the top of the hill, reduce your speed and descend slowly. The main thing is not to panic.
- When you start to skid do NOT steer into the direction of the skid but gently steer into the direction you want to go without slamming on the brakes. I think we have been told (or confused) for years that we are suppose to steer the wrong way. If you steer INTO the direction of skid then you will most certainly end up in the ditch.
- Allow extra space between you and other vehicles. This is NOT the time for tailgating (as if there is any time for it).
- Gently apply your brakes before you have to come to a stop. Don’t be the person who immediately applies the brakes at the stop line. It won’t hurt to start braking early.
The key ingredient to driving in winter conditions on the roadways is CAUTION. Keep in mind that these are not the normal driving conditions in the South. It doesn’t hurt to use more caution than normal when driving in snow and/or ice. In watching the reports on local news, law enforcement repeatedly say that the main reason for accidents during snow/ice is speed. Drivers are driving too fast for the conditions. There is no shame for driving slow. If people are impatient they can go around you.
I hate to say this but drivers around here tend to have that NASCAR mentality on the roads but it isn’t a race and no one is going to win a points competition. Have you seen NASCAR race on ice? No, I can’t say that you have. The highways are roads that lead to our jobs, our homes and our families. It’s not illegal to be cautious. Besides, it’s only 2-3 days of the year. Can’t we just make allowances for this and make it safe for everyone? Let’s be cautious and not knuckleheads on ice.