*It's 4 Wheel Drive, Not 4 Wheel Stop*
By: dog8dog
21 September, 2007

Most everyone has heard that saying before. But,like most things, your understanding of what it means can change as experience force feeds you a new perspective.

I have a lot of winter driving experience. Part of my job is to go to remote mountain sites to repair problems with the radio and whatever else they can con me into doing.

The vehicle was a '91 GMC Jimmy. I had recently had four new tires put on it. I told the guy what I did and that I spent more time off road then on. So, he gave me some really beefy 8-ply tires. They were a little noisy on the freeway, but seemed to handle well.

The timing couldn't have been better. A couple of weeks later we had a bad snow/ice storm. At the time, I was commuting 80 miles to work. I started for home at about 1600. It was snowing pretty good so I put it in 4 high and settled in for a slow and steady ride. Traffic was stop and go. More stop than go, though. About halfway through my trip home, 40 mile and 4 hours, I was sitting on a section of eight lane (both ways) freeway that was an incline. I had sat in the same spot for about five minutes, when I thought I felt the truck shift. Thinking that someone just bumped into me, I looked around me to see where it came from. There were lots of cars around me, but none were close enough to have given me a bump. I felt it again. I am thinking, "What the heck?" Then I realize what it was. I was sliding. I could not think of anything that I could do. I could not press any harder on the brake pedal. Traffic was at a stand still so I could not risk trying to move and have my tires break traction. Even if I did manage to move a foot or two forward, the vehicle behind me would close any gap behind and I would still be in danger of sliding again.

Fortunately, traffic started creeping foward at a slow but steady pace until after I had crested the hill. I made it home four hours later and called off the next day. I did not feel like reliving that again so soon.

All in all, I feel that I did the right thing. I did not panic and I weighed my options. However, maybe I should have been better prepared. The chains in the truck did not fit the new, larger tires. Even if they did fit, I am not sure that I would have had the foresight to put them on for that road. I have never used studded tires. Maybe they would have worked better. Finally, I wonder if Dispensers could be made for deploying sand or kitty litter around the tires for this and similar situations?

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