Most people hate winter. It’s cold, they say. The air is dry, they complain. And there’s all that murderous snow! But few people actually hate snow. Most will agree that a snow day off work is a fairly joyous occasion, and snow is beautiful. It covers all the dead grass and mud in a clean, white sheet.
What we really hate about snow is driving in it. It’s slick, it’s dangerous, and no one seems to expect it (though winter tends to occur annually), so it always causes traffic jams. Our goal today will be to put an end to this. We only ask that you read this article on how to be a boss while driving in the snow, and make sure every person north of the 35th parallel reads it, too. And that will save winter. Simple enough, right?
So where do all of these traffic jams originate? From fear and ineptitude. If there’s a micron of snow on the road, we tend to view all things paved as a long-distance meat grinder and slow down, brake too soon, and accelerate as fast as economic reform. To get more control, remember these two words: tap and feather.
Tap the brakes when you’re slowing down. This will prevent your tires from locking up and skating sideways. As long as your tires are rolling, you still have control. But if they can only slide, you might as well be a little dog on a polished wood floor. Obviously, you can’t keep them rolling when you need to stop, so tap the brakes quickly to alternate between locking and rolling.
Note: If you have ABS, an Antilock Braking System, you don’t need to pump your brakes. ABS does the same thing, but does it 15 times per second. If you’re faster than that, pump away. Otherwise, just mash the pedal and steer as needed.
Feathering the gas is another way to retain control. If you just floor the accelerator, your tires will be spinnin’ round like DC Talk. But a slow, geriatric depression will only get you moving fast enough to catch the Stanley Cup Finals- this summer. That’s being part of the problem. Be part of the solution instead and feather the gas. Use short spurts of power to get up to speed, then avoid cruise control, as it can cause hydroplaning over slick surfaces.
Feathering the gas can also help in that most of inevitable of winter eventualities: a slide. When you’re going around a curve and your rear starts to break free, the brake pedal isn’t usually your friend. Instead, you’ll want to feather the gas while turning “into the slide.” Old guys and carefree hoons have probably told you this before, but what does it mean? It means that you need you point your front wheels in whatever direction your rear end is moving. Then nudge the gas until you straighten out. This will give your front tires traction on the white stuff, and you’ll be ready to continue your trip. No accidents caused; no traffic jams.
If you remember these few simple techniques, you’ll have more control in the slick, and if all of you do it simultaneously, you’ll prevent 97% of all traffic jams.* There. We just saved winter, so we’ll check that off the list. After lunch, we’ll save stick shifts, rear-wheel drive, and large displacement engines.
*Figure may be fictitious.