The List: 5 winter driving words of advice
Mother Nature must get bored in the winter. There’s little growing to be done in cold months and most of the foliage she usually tends has retreated into hibernation. This means Nature has to find new ways to entertain herself. Based on observation, she really likes dumping a boat-load of snow onto the roads and watching the wee people slide around in their cars, smashing into each other and careening into ditches.
We can’t stop Mother Nature, but we can prepare ourselves for the wintry slip ‘n slide.
Our tire-changing, battery-charging, I-locked-my-keys-in-the-dang-car-again friends from AAA have plenty of helpful tips for winter driving. They include the obvious, like:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
- Drive slowly. Give yourself time to maneuver.
- Know your brakes. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.
While those tips are essential for safe winter driving, we think AAA forgot a few fundamentals. Here’s our list of Tips for Winter Driving in Maine:
1. Pee before you get into the car. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a 20-hour haul to the Midwest or a 2-minute trip to the corner store, PEE BEFORE YOU GO. In the winter, your two-minute trip could turn into two hours in stagnant traffic. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a gas station within spitting distance. More likely, you’re choices will be limited to 1) a painful “holding,” 2) a risky sprint from the driver’s seat into the nearby woods, or 3) a frantic search within the car for an empty jar or highly absorbent blanket.
2. Pack a lunch. For the same reasons mentioned above, it’s a good idea to store some emergency grub in the car. We’re talking about non-perishable stuff like crackers or pretzel sticks, not fresh fruit that’ll start decomposing in the glove box before it freezes solid for the remainder of the winter, only to thaw in May when you’ve long forgotten about it and can’t for the life of you figure out where that smell is coming from.
3. Push and be pushed. If you don’t believe in Karma, then you’ve never lived through a Maine winter. The seasonal mantra could be, “Push and be pushed,” for it’s certain that you’ll do both more than once this winter. People come out of the woodwork to help push cars out of precarious positions in snow piles or on icy inclines. You’ll inevitably witness it first hand. And in order not to anger the World, be sure to pay it forward.
4. Seek safety in numbers. The news rarely reports on stranded motorists who have been eaten by wolves on one of America’s highways. That’s because people don’t get stranded and eaten all that often on highways. It’s when the driver has the genius idea of taking a “back road” that trouble ensues, usually in the form of a blinding snow, an unplowed road and two months of eating dried bark and imitation leather. Heavy highway traffic isn’t great either, but it’s the difference between being found by AAA or being found by cadaver dogs.
5. Trust no one. We realize you’re just coming off the holidays and those warm, fuzzy feelings that Christmas carols and twinkle lights inspire in otherwise cynical folk. And we’re all for peace on Earth and good will toward men…except when it comes to winter driving. You can’t trust any one – particularly your fellow drivers who misjudge their truck’s braking capacity and their own driving competence. You need to be on the offensive here. You can’t trust your own tires, brakes or reflexes. Drive like the winter is out to get you – because it is.