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Winter Driving Question


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#1 emBARK

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 08:12 AM

So I live in SWNY, right on Lake Erie, about 40 minutes from Buffalo. With all the weather that we've had recently I got thinking.

When driving in an actual whiteout (not just the normal heavy blowing snow that we get) what is the best recommendation? Do I slow to a literal crawl or do I stop? I worry that if I stop some idiot behind me will rear end me, however if I don't I may end up being the idiot.

Thoughts or advice?

#2 Davis

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 09:19 AM

You move to Arizona....  rofl

 

LOL, sorry I couldn't resist. I live here now but I'm from AK and have spent a bit of time driving in snow. For me man it was also just a personal judgement call depending how many feet past the front of your vehicle you can see. If you cannot see past the front of your hood, then probably pull off the road and just wait. But so long as you can see, say a couple car lengths in front of you then I personally would just slow down and keep moving. Doing your best to keep the snow cleared off your taillights is a big help as well. The more snow the builds up back there the less effective they become and the better your chances of somebody running into you. 

As far as just coming to a stop goes though, unless you are in a line of stopped traffic where the car in front and the car behind you is stopped as well, I would never come to a complete standstill in a traffic lane, if you are going to stop, you need to get off the road if you are a solo car and not driving in a line of traffic. 


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#3 spenceman

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 10:01 AM

I grew up in Colorado and usually make the long haul to visit my family every Christmas. I've always been taught that when you do pull over, you should turn off the lights. The reason being, when the snow is bad enough you can't really tell where the road is, so you just take it on faith and head toward the tail lights in front of you. If you leave your lights on people will head straight at you.


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#4 PeteQ

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 04:17 PM

When I lived in snow country I kept a 12v strobe in my vehicle. In really crap weather I could plug it in and magnet mount it to the roof. Especially if one were to stop by the side of the road...

#5 stoddy9311

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 05:05 AM

Now I don't want to sound like a dick here....my answer would be don't drive in a whiteout in the first place!

And let me explain.

Why are we on this forum? Why did we come here? I would guess that 99.9% of folks here are a-type, hard charging, ass kicking individuals, no matter what your profession outside the Internet. If we packed groceries at the store, we would be the smartest dressed, on time for work, quickest packers employee of the month! In other words prepared.i hate the word prepper...I prefer prepareder if it was a word! ( Copyrighted by me now btw haha).

So what the f does this old twat mean?

I mean the reason you would even ask this question suggests you've already thought long and hard about driving in a whiteout? Probably done mental journeys when travelling a route in good conditions, looked at weather patterns etc etc, prepared yourself mentally and physically to drive in a whiteout condition.....if, and it should be a big IF, for some reason, after all my prior preparation and planning to prevent a piss poor performance (7p's) Mother Nature as caught me unawares, because knowingly stepping out into a known whiteout condition and driving, without a good reason is fool hardy.


But if I got caught out?

I always kill my lights as spence said, including inside my cabin. My journey changes then...if still close to home, I head back and wait..if not, I look to get off the road in a safe place..truck stop, parking lot etc, somewhere lit. You should be good in your vehicle, because you've already prepared for this! And you've allowed for this little set back because you set of early to give yourself plenty of time.

The moment it breaks your moving off again, and have already planned your next stop on your map, in case it whiteouts again.

Drive safe and prepared!

Craig
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#6 emBARK

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 08:14 AM

Thanks Craig, I'd never willingly depart in blizzard like conditions. Most of the time when the wind and snow picks up, even with poor visibility, one can keep moving. Only once has it gotten so bad that I felt compelled to stop my vehicle. As you mentioned I'm am appropriately prepped in my vehicle, enough so I'd feel comfortable that I could spend a night or three if the need arose. That being said I hope to never test that.

Until I moved here I wasn't aware of how quickly the great lakes can sometimes violently change the weather patterns.

Thanks for your feedback.
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#7 DStevenson

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 11:44 AM

We just had a couple whiteouts here this past Friday (1/9/15) which caused a lot of havoc.

70+ cars in each, I think it only resulted in 1 fatality though which after seeing the carnage is impressive.

 

I don't have an answer for you because I've never experienced it in a car.  I have in fact experienced the vertigo effect while skiing in the Alps and what was amazing about it is you literally had no idea if you were moving.  You couldn't feel the same sensations that you would normally feel so when I chose to stop because I was unsure of my location I found I was moving MUCH faster than I anticipated, I must have picked up speed in the initial white out.

 

Now, granted you have the speedo to tell you you're moving in a car, but I can't say if stopping is the best solution because you have no idea what the guy behind you is going to do.  He may stop, he may feel its safer to continue on.

 

Or like in the movie "Days of Thunder"  you floor it and stay to the right!


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#8 MightyP

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 01:06 PM

Stoddy really hit the nail on the head. Unless you're LE, fire or EMT, just stay home if it's even close to those conditions. When I had my truck, I found a safe place to park (gas station, rest stop, etc) when visibility got below ~4 ft beyond my hood. It did well in the snow and I wasn't concerned running over hidden curbs or going in the ditch would disable my vehicle, so the risk of getting hit was greater than me hitting someone/something. Now that I drive a car that does HORRIBLE in the snow, I make the call MUCH earlier. 

 

On a somewhat related note, have any of you tried the night vision systems available on luxury cars in these kind of conditions? I think some of them use IR, which seems like it should help ID cars in front of you... And remember, we're not talking normal driving here. This is to get off the interstate, in conditions where you can't see more than a foot or two past your hood.


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#9 pira114

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 02:39 PM

I live in snow country. With mostly windy mountain roads where pulling over isn't an option.

Aside from staying out of these conditions in the first place, the only option is to find a way to gauge your distance to the edge of the road. Like trees or the actual mountain. I don't like driving very close to the cliff when I can't see the road. This may be harder in the mid west with long flat roads. Which hopefully means no cliff to fall off.

Stopping on steep mountain roads with no shoulder is not an option. The few places where it is an option, I take it. Every time. I'd rather have to shovel my way out ,or wait for a plow, than drive when I can't see more than 10 feet at a time.

And I've always got time to wait. Because, as mentioned above, I've got supplies in the vehicle. Right?

Bottom line is stop if you can reasonably be assured of it being safe to do so, keep driving if you can't. Use anything you can see to gauge where your car is.

By the way, it's not always the guy behind you you need to worry about. In white out conditions, I've seen people driving on the wrong side of the road with no clue they were.

Edited by pira114, 10 January 2015 - 02:40 PM.


#10 stoddy9311

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 04:57 PM

Thanks Craig, I'd never willingly depart in blizzard like conditions. Most of the time when the wind and snow picks up, even with poor visibility, one can keep moving. Only once has it gotten so bad that I felt compelled to stop my vehicle. As you mentioned I'm am appropriately prepped in my vehicle, enough so I'd feel comfortable that I could spend a night or three if the need arose. That being said I hope to never test that.
Until I moved here I wasn't aware of how quickly the great lakes can sometimes violently change the weather patterns.
Thanks for your feedback.


No problem!

Didn't want to come across as a dick...where I live its snow from October to May most years, and live right next the Rockies so hear you on the whiteouts and changing weather! We get Chinook winds throughout the winter...we can go literally -30 c to +6 in 12 hrs! This sounds great, but the reality is sheer ice roads and lots of accidents! As my own record, I attended 12 separate accidents in a 12hr shift! And I am not even a traffic officer haha. I have even seen our district commander doing accident reports!

I think sometimes the biggest issues are with people who think because they have a 4x4 they can drive faster than everyone else....wrong! I go to more spinoffs of 4x4's than any other vehicle....that's my observation not statistics..people in little cars generally know the cars not great and will drive slower and leave bigger gaps.

Guaranteed if you set off in the rushed mindset you will end up in the ditch or worse..

And always be cautious of reverse camber bends or down hill with a sharp bend...apart from the obvious bend, this is where water will take a natural path and freeze over...try this when out again, you will see the water spread out like a hockey rink.

Another issue is tires. I always run my truck tires a bit flatter this time of year, but each week I blow them to the correct pressure then release it a few psi, just lets the tire flatten out a bit more....I am sure some safety Sally would advise against this, but it works for me.

Good wipers as well, and topping up the windshield wash and gas..just good habits to get into (especially as gas is at a record low here in Alberta, 72c a litre).

Take care

Craig




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