January 19, 2016
From National Sr. Ride Safety Officer Christian “Cloner” Cloen
Winter has finally decided to make its arrival both in the Great Lakes area and now the East Coast. Now that the cold upon us, the rain is now turning to ice and snow. With continued lake effect snow in the Great Lakes area, and now, projected snow storms along the east coast, I wanted to take a minute to remind everyone the importance of driving safely in the winter time.
Snow on the ground means making the transformation from 2 wheels and open air, to 4 wheels with doors, windows, and metal around us. However, just because you are surrounded by a cage, it doesn’t mean that you should be any less safe in how you handle your vehicle and your surroundings.
Here are some tips to remain safe in the winter time:
- Leave your vehicle with 2 wheels in the garage;
- Place an emergency kit in your 4 wheeled vehicle with the following items:
- A blanket;
- Jumper cables;
- Flairs or safety triangles
- A small shovel
- A small bag of kitty litter
- Non-perishable snacks
- Water (yes it will freeze, but it will thaw in the heat of your vehicle and come in handy if you get stranded on the roadway)
- A charger for your cell phone
- A set of warm clothes (if you get stuck in a situation where you have no heat, layers is the key to staying warm)
- Anything else you can think of that can help you get through at least a 12 hour period while waiting for help to arrive;
- Always drive in accordance with road conditions, just because the speed limit says 55 doesn’t mean you have to do 55;
- Always maintain a safe following distance, increasing the distance in poor weather and road conditions;
- Never Slam on your brakes, if you find yourself sliding, pump your brakes creating the same effect that ABS has;
- If your vehicle has ABS, it does not mean your car cannot go into a skid;
- Just because the road may look clear of ice does not mean that it is, this is the time of year where black ice is present when you least expect it;
- Overpasses ice over quicker that the road surfaces;
- 4 wheel drive does not mean 4 wheel stop, the traction and handling in a 4 wheel drive vehicle is great in the snow, however, you do not know if there is a layer of ice underneath that snow;
- Drive within your abilities, it doesn’t matter who is passing you (most likely you will pass them in a ditch), drive at a speed in which you feel comfortably in control of your vehicle while maintaining the ability to react quickly in an emergent situation.
This of course is not an all-inclusive list on how to safely drive in the winter time during snowy conditions. They are just merely suggestions and reminders to go along with the things you already have learned through years of winter driving.
Remember, safe driving while in your car or truck ensures that you will be able to hit the open road on 2 wheels once the weather warms up, the snow and ice melts, the salt has washed off the road surface after a good rain, and the sun is shining up high in the sky!
For those of you who find yourselves in an area where lake effect, winter storms, or nor’easters are forecasted at times, when the storm hits, the safest thing to do is stay inside by the fire (if you have a fireplace) and watch the snow fall through your window from the warmth of your home!
Enjoy your 4 wheeled vehicles, but I can’t wait to see all of you on 2 wheels in the spring!
National Sr. Ride Safety Officer