Ah, the winter storms are upon us once again. And once again, a disproportionate number of my extended neighbors are demonstrating their incompetence behind the wheel. It seems that no matter how many times the Puget Sound region gets snowed upon, people never learn how to drive in it. To that end, I've put together a set of helpful guidelines to help people understand how to drive on snow and ice.
If you don't absolutely, positively HAVE to be on the road in these conditions, then stay inside next to a nice warm fire with your car safely parked. I'm sure you can come up with any number of reasons why you think you have to drive in this crap, but remember that nearly all of the problems that you can have driving on snow and ice (accidents, getting stuck, freezing to death, etc) are a direct result of breaking rule 1.
- You can change direction, or you can change speed, but you can't change them both at the same time.
You only get so much friction with which to control your vehicle. You can use it to speed up, to slow down, or to turn. You don't have enough friction to do more than one of these things at a time. Remember, the fastest way to spin out is to turn the wheel and apply the brake at the same time. Maybe that's what you wanted to do, but unless you're 16 and in your dad's car in a deserted parking lot, I doubt it.
- Slow Down.
In a low-friction environment, inertia is king. For the next few moments, you will continue to go the same speed and direction that you're going now, whether you want to or not. The faster you're going when you decide that you don't want to go that direction anymore (such as, say, an object at rest in that direction), the less fun you'll have in the next few moments. Note there is one exception to the inertia rule, and that is that an object in motion will stop anyway if it encounters a larger object at rest. At this point, you do not want to be the erstwhile object in motion.
- Get off my bumper, you tailgating imbecile.
See discussion above.
- Don't you wish you lived somewhere warmer?
Did you know that there's a whole hemisphere of the Earth which is in summer right now? I bet it's not icy there.
- Just stay home.
The observant reader will realize that this is really just a restatement of rule 1, but it really is important enough to repeat. Stay safe, stay warm, and we'll all make it through to springtime. I'll race you there.