Driving on ice or snow experiences, or tips

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jabe1

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Got to put all of my snow driving experience to the test this morning.
I had a 5 day installation job starting this morning, about a 45 minute drive away…on a normal day.
We got well north of a foot of snow overnight, with it still coming down for my drive this morning. With the number of accidents on the freeways, especially the on and off ramps, my GPS took me through the suburbs and over a different route than I am used to getting my home to the customer’s. At 7 in the morning, it looked like the city plows had made maybe one feeble attempt at clearing the main roads, and this trend continued even on the freeways. I’ve decided that the greatest threat is drivers who are terrified to be out; as they are unpredictable.
I was frequently behind drivers on the freeway moving along at 25mph with their hazards barely flashing through lenses not sufficiently cleaned of snow, and billowing blinding snow from the piles on their roofs and hoods,
One hour and fourth two minutes later, I reached my destination. Forty minutes after that I received a call that the truck containing all of my materials was not to show up today. 😑
They said it was due to MLK day and the depot being closed. Of course they would have known this when the delivery was scheduled in the first place. Wimps were scared.
 
Lumen83

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Sometimes the plows just can't keep up with it at the rate it is coming down. The other thing is the plows can't scrape right to the pavement. Theres still a layer of snow there after the blade goes over it. What is supposed to happen is the road treatments should melt that. But with the extreme cold we have been having, its not enough. So the snow stays on the road, freezes, and layers up. This can really throw a wrench in things for those who don't understand how to drive in the snow.
 
alpg88

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Snow is bad, but it is still possible to drive, considering all the precautions. Black ice otoh, there is nothing you can do about it, to tips, no decades of experience, no abundance of caution will help, nothing will. Best thing to not drive during icy conditions. chains and studs do help, but not all jurisdictions allow them. and even less people use them, i can literally count on my fingers how many times i saw a private vehicle using chains. I see busses and plows use chains often, but not privately owned vehicles.
 
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pnwoutdoors

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Snow is bad, but it is still possible to drive, considering all the precautions. Black ice otoh, there is nothing you can do about it, to tips, no decades of experience, no abundance of caution will help ...

^ This.

About the only thing that does help, on such ice, is: chains. Ones that bite hard into the ice itself. Anything else is just a pipe dream, as it'll just skim over the surface to the point we're left with hoping it won't let go.

My own main data point, on ice: years ago on an almost perfectly flat roadway during the winter, driving a 1980s Subaru 4WD with excellent ice+snow tires, going ~18mph in a 35mph corner, light snow covering ice. The whole roadway at that corner was ice, frigid temps had frozen all the light rain/sleet that had fallen the prior evening. Never saw it, though I suspected it was everywhere, hence the ~15-18mph speeds. Didn't help, not one bit. One instant I had modest grip; the next instant, there was zip. Went right off the road into a big snow bank. Thankfully, there wasn't a ditch or drop-off or anything nasty at that spot. Not a thing I could do about it. I doubt that even going 10mph at that spot would have ensured grip. There just wasn't any to be had. Chains might have helped. Possibly.

The other day, I saw a couple of fire department rigs heading out ... and this following a few days of icy, sleety, snowy weather. They had their big winter-capable tires on, along with really stout-looking sets of chains. They were motoring along almost without regard to the "sane" speeds required for normal ice+snow tired vehicles that weren't wearing chains. I was impressed with how darned easily they cornered, ice and all. Made all the difference in the world, those chains. Though, I suspect that if that driver had gotten on the gas just a bit more he'd have lost grip in those "hot" corners he was taking.
 
KITROBASKIN

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Agree with pnwoutdoors but do wonder if metal studs would have prevented the mishap reported (having no personal experience with studded tires).
Also wanted to reaffirm the value of experimentation in a safe area to learn what your rig is capable of handling.
 
alpg88

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Agree with pnwoutdoors but do wonder if metal studs would have prevented the mishap reported (having no personal experience with studded tires).
Also wanted to reaffirm the value of experimentation in a safe area to learn what your rig is capable of handling.
Yea, studs would help, would not make it as easy as on dry pavement, but better than just tires, unfortunately only few states allow studs with no restrictions.
 
PhotonWrangler

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When driving in bad weather, don't turn the radio up to the point where the sound masks the road noise. That audible feedback from the car and the road are important.
 
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idleprocess

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Black ice otoh, there is nothing you can do about it, to tips, no decades of experience, no abundance of caution will help, nothing will. Best thing to not drive during icy conditions.
I concur, however one does not always have a choice - I certainly didn't over more than a decade working a variety of critical infrastructure support roles in telecom thus made the trek for the ~two annual days that DFW ices over. Others might find themselves being forced to travel under those conditions as well, thus I suggest everyone gain some modicum of experience with driving on ice safely if they live somewhere likely to see it - even if but once a year.
 
Poppy

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<BIG SNIP>

My first front wheel drive car was a 1982 Buick Century I bought for my wife. It had a 4 cyl, dog of an engine. I bought a spare set of wheels, and very aggressive snows for it. Her parents lived at the bottom of a very steep hill, and getting up that hill was always a challenge. Not for this car. I was once on interstate 80, and all lanes were stopped, or crawling, because some cars couldn't make the incline. The car in front of me was spinning his wheels. I got behind him and pushed him until he got going.

lol... to be continued.
As promised, the continuation of the story:

The reason we were out in that weather was because my wife had "nothing to wear" to an upcoming wedding. I took her to a mall that is typically 20 minutes away. We had 1/4 tank of gas, and if we didn't hurry up, we'd have a limited amount of time to shop. It started snowing just as we were leaving home, and by time we left the mall, there were a few inches on the ground. The first 1/2 inch that fell had turned to ice. The roads were terrible. It took 3 hours to travel what was normally a 20 minute drive. Both gas stations on the way home, were closed. I was running out of gas, so much so, that when traffic stopped, I turned off the engine to conserve fuel. It is amazing how quickly a car will lose heat in freezing temps. I hoped my battery would hold up to the constant start and stop of the engine.

The TIP:
GAS... impending crappy weather? Top off your gas tank.
 
bykfixer

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The other morning after an overnight rain it appeared it was going to be just another ordinary commute. Look outside through a window and all seemed harmless enough. I figured starting the truck a few minutes early would mean less frost to clean off.

First step out the door onto the concrete showed it was not an ordinary day. There was a thin skim of ice on everything. The pavement appeared damp like after a fog. Look at the thermometer on the dash and see "29"…… so I took out my paving temperature gun and see the pavement was "31".

Oh, this could get interesting. If you've ever seen an Australian stock car race on tv, if someone crashes they leave the crashed vehicle where it came to rest. After 5 miles it seemed as though I was in one in real life. Main drags that are normally light gray were dark gray. Some areas were dry, most were not.

Roll along 10mph under the speed limit, watching for (and hoping to see) little rooster tails off tires of vehicles blowing past like I'm standing still. None to be seen. Uh oh! Tire noise was pretty normal but there's a car in the median upside down. A mile later one backwards on the shoulder. Slow down another 10mph and turn on flashers. I had a class 35 minutes away and had 45 minutes to get there.

Driving under bridges I see vehicles at right angles to roadways, cops on shoulders with flashing lights signaling crash ahead, bob and weave through that, and still being passed like I'm sitting still. I must have seen 20 cars crashed but nobody seemed to notice. I felt my truck wiggle a couple of times so I'd let off the throttle. No cruise control today thank ya.

I arrived at my class 15 minutes late, but made it in one piece. Luckily nowhere on my commute had me stopping at traffic signals, or stop signs.

I have weight in the bed of my pickup this time of year and keep the tires 3 pounds below max reccomended pressure. I figure the weight helps and the extra friction of lower air pressure caused my tires to warm enough to melt the thin black ice. Had the pavement been colder I doubt that would have been the case but it was right at freezing.
 
Poppy

Poppy

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My friend Mr Fixer, I would have called my boss and told him I'll leave the house after the sun comes up and heats the road a bit.

I'm sure no one t thought that you were a hero for getting there.

What if one of those idiots speeding past you crashed into you? You wouldn't have gotten any extra credit for that.

edit: Better safe than sorry my friend I want to continue to see you around.
 
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bykfixer

bykfixer

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Sun was up, but not above the trees. Ordinarilly the traffic heats up the interstate roads but that day was an exception. A fog had set in and the "dew" from it stuck to pavement. Not the first time a commute was shall we say……interesting.

And I have called (or probably texted) the boss to say my judgement is to stay at home for a time. I think my least favorite was a night returning home in a snow event and watching the wet spray from tires on vehicles turning into slush before it hit the pavement on the interstate. I just settle into the right lane with flashers going and slow down a little more as my comfort level declines. Funny thing is I usually end up being the lead "car" in a long line of cars behind me but if I approach somebody going even slower I aint above falling in behind them.

This one time a snow hit and I was about 45 miles from home. The interstate was moving like molasis in January. When I finally got a couple of miles from home, on this one main drag everybody was in the right lane of two lanes. Moving slowly I thought "man I might be home in an hour". But we were moving. This one guy goes flying past in the left lane like 45mph and as he approached a bridge with a gentle right sweeping curve "wham!" he crashes into the bridge abutment and spins across the road into a car about 100 yards in front of me. It was one of those old lightweight Mercedes 2 seater cars. He gets out all fussy faced and starts hollering arms all waving and such. Several other drivers comenced to beating the crap out of the guy. I threw my truck up in park and helped push his broken jalopy out of the way along with the car he'd crashed into. As I drove past the guy was ok but he was still fussing as people drove past him.
If I recall correctly it took another 45 minutes to reach home about 5 miles away.
 
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