40 mph can lead to a rollover. I’ve seen people barrel past me angrily in the left lane, and then seen their rolled-over SUVs a few miles later. Don’t be that guy.
There’s an old saying that applies to many situations in life, including bad weather driving: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. Every time some idiot changes lane into your stopping space, drop back until you are a safe distance from him. You know how to estimate stopping distance, right?
Also, try out your brakes a bit before you need them, and see how slowly they decelerate you before you start sliding. Extrapolate from that knowledge.
Things like sudden turns and sudden deceleration are going to be impossible for you, especially if there’s ice, so make sure you don’t need to do them. Brake slowly, turn widely. Be in the correct lane way in advance.
Obviously this is much easier if you are familiar with the route or have a GPS, but even if you’re somewhere unfamiliar, do your best.
Remember that you are surrounded by Texas drivers who haven’t left enough stopping distance and are going too fast to steer safely. If you want to do anything — turn, slow down, change lanes, anything other than go in a straight line at constant speed — then you need to give your fellow drivers as much warning as possible.
A trick I have used on highways is to find an 18 wheeler going your way, and follow it at a safe distance. This has a number of advantages:
The truck driver is almost certainly a lot more experienced than you. He’s likely driven across the country in all kinds of weather, and he knows what a safe speed is for the current conditions.
He can see further than you because he’s higher up, so if there’s something bad ahead, he’ll probably see it sooner than you would be able to.
If anything bad does happen he’ll hit it first. And probably plough straight through it.
If he brakes, you’ll be able to brake a little faster than him.
So all you need to do is follow behind the truck at a safe distance. I’ll say that a third time: at a safe distance.
The absolute minimum safe distance to follow behind a truck is _at least_ far enough back that you can see his side (wing) mirrors. That’s the rule of thumb to ensure that he has a chance of seeing you. Then add however much additional distance you need to be able to stop gracefully without ploughing into the back of his truck, because it’ll hurt you a hell of a lot more than it hurts him.
The best thing is not to overtake. The trucks will probably be the slowest things on the road, and you’re following their lead, right? But if you absolutely must overtake someone, leave plenty of distance before changing lane back in front of them.
There’s a fairly simple rule of thumb for this one too: when you can see both of the other vehicle’s headlights in your rear view mirror, you’re probably safe to start pulling in ahead of him.
If you’re turning and start to skid, you need to:
For example, you’re turning right and the car starts sliding left so you won’t make it? Don’t brake. Lift your foot and turn the wheel left a little until the tires start to grip again. Once you’re no longer sliding, then you can try steering the way you want to go again.
Advanced driving courses can teach you how to do this until it becomes an automatic reflex. I’ve been known to try a few low speed practice skids in an icy empty parking lot, but I’m not suggesting that as a good idea, particularly not in an SUV. If you roll it, it’s your problem.
Statistically, people who play driving video games tend to be worse drivers. Those high speed turns you make while evading cops in Grand Theft Auto will not translate into real life.
For a taste of this, try playing Gran Turismo, which is one of the most realistic driving games. You’ll find that compared to other games, the cars maneuver like bricks. And remember, the cars in that game are based on highly tuned performance racing machines, not your crappy Corolla. © mathew 2017
© mathew 2017