*Winter Driving*
By: Jaden
20 May 2007

What I say below ain’t road driving gospel. These tricks work for others and me. I will not guarantee that using them will prevent you from going off the road. That all depends on road conditions, your vehicle and your driving abilities. This is just tricks and tips to help you.

Can you drive your vehicle safely on slippery roads? Can you get out of a skid? If you spin around 180 degrees and are traveling backwards can you get your vehicle stopped?

Blizzard and Kosh learned a valuable lesson about driving on slippery roads, fortunately they made it through the ordeal with nothing hurt but maybe a little pride :o) Like they said, don’t use cruise control on slippery surfaces. See When 2WD is not enough and Snow in the Northeast.

A tarred road

The road I used to live on

A snapshot of War’s TV

2WD (rear wheel drive) Jeep Cherokee

A front wheel drive 2WD vehicle is much better on slippery surfaces than a rear wheel drive. Quality tires is a must. Have a set of studded tires if you can afford a set of them. A front wheel drive pulls the vehicle whereas a rear wheel drive pushes. By pulling, a vehicle is less likely to skid out of control. Oh yea, it can happen, but less likely than rear wheel drive. A skid is when the rear of the vehicle tries to pass the front of the vehicle.DO NOT slam on the brakes, that's the worst thing you could possibly do.

A quick war story- Awhile back a severe storm was expected to hit my area over night. I decided to spend the night at the station so I’d be there and not have to drive in the morning, kinda beat the storm ya know. I left home for the 60 mile drive. It was a dark night, but there was no snow yet and the roads were good so I was traveling at 55MPH in 2WD.

I was about 12 miles from the station when TSHTF. I started around a gradual left hand corner by the Cannon Hill Road. The back end of the truck started sliding toward the right and I became completely sideways in the road, STILL doing 55MPH with on coming headlights, fortunately they were a ways off. My immediate thought was “My insurance company isn’t gonna like this”.

As I was sliding sideways, I cut my wheels hard to the right and downshifted to 2nd gear. Then I started gently pushing on the gas to get the rear wheels spinning forward. While in a skid you don’t steer the front of the vehicle, you steer the back. Just like a boat. By getting the rear wheels spinning I was hoping to be able to throw the back end back where it should be. It worked, the vehicle recovered and I swung around parallel with the road and started to skid the other direction for a bit. I started gently steering in to the skid and giving just a little bit of gas (short pumps on the peddle) to try and keep the rear end behind me. It seemed like an eternity, but was only probably 10 seconds. I finally got slowed down and straightened out while still on the pavement. 55MPH to complete stop w/o leaving the pavement. (that’s a 2 lane road here) I pulled off to the side and got out, just about fell down right on Route 1, could barely stand up. It was sheer black ice. I called the Sheriff’s Office on the radio to get DOT out with some sand.

The dispatcher who just happened to live on the Cannon Hill Rd and knowing what corner I just slid around asked, “You were doing 55 sideways?”.


“Are you ok?”.

“Yea, I’m alright".

If I had hit dry pavement while sliding sideways I WOULD have rolled I was lucky there was lots of ice.

Kinda hairy for a few moments. Dunno if it was just a stroke of luck (most likely) or skill. I think skill attributed some. Doing this with a standard transmission is kinda tricky, an automatic is much easier.

I now own a truck with an auto tranny. I’m a “2 footed” driver. Right foot for gas, left for break. ALWAYS! Sometimes both need to be used together. Shifting the same foot back and forth is pointless. There is way too much time loss during the transition. You could hit the accelerator or the brake harder than is needed causing more of a skid. As I said above, sometimes both need to be used in conjunction with each other. That’s IMPOSSIBLE with one foot!!

If you can, find a big parking lot somewhere that’s empty at night and get the owner’s permission to practice driving. Ensure the owner that you just want to practice driving in slippery surfaces and that you’re not going to use the parking lot just to blow donuts. Practice going in to skids and getting out of them, put yourself into a skid and get the vehicle 180 degrees backwards while still in motion, get it stopped. NOTHING says you have to be going forward to stop. You can stop while going backwards and then turn around. IF* the cops show up while you’re practicing you already have the owner’s permission. Just tell them to call the owner.

If you’re driving on suspected or known slippery surfaces, lock in to 4wd HI. Then the wheels are pushing and pulling the vehicle equally and you are less likely to start a skid. Drive slow and ANTICIPATE going in to a skid and which way your vehicle will go. 4WD DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN DRIVE 55MPH!!! Every time there’s a corner coming up, anticipate that you WILL go in to a skid and how you’re going to get out of it.

Practice “Engine Braking”. Use the transmission and engine to slow you down. Yes, you can do it with automatics too. If you want to creep around a corner or creep down a hill, slowly downshift. Let off the gas and go from drive to the next lowest gear and let the engine catch up and you’ll feel the vehicle decelerate. If you want to go slower, downshift again.

Caution: When engine braking, if you downshift too fast or drop down to too low of a gear immediately, your tires will try to slow down quicker than they should (Remember…the engine has to catch up to your vehicle’s speed) and that could cause a skid.

Now let’s have some fun and go out and FNV this- :o)

A Couple of Pics of an Early December 2006 Storm, 3-4” Snow Accumulation

Drove 70 miles in this crap.

There were several accidents, rollovers and cars going off the road throughout the county. The road surface was icy. This was the same day we had range for the Sheriff’s Dept and Jack’s cruiser got taken out by a tractor-trailer truck. >We were shooting in a gravel pit and the road leading in to it is a pretty good slope. Travis had a 2wd pick up truck and it took him probably 15 running starts to make it to the top of the hill. Rather entertaining to watch. I thought I was going to have to chain up to him and tow him up the hill. Another guy had a 4x4 vehicle and was still spinning on the way up the hill. When I left, my truck went up it in 4wd w/o a problem. Good tires help. I had no problem driving 70 miles and never slid or skidded.

Range in the bitter cold

On those bad days when I have to be out, I poke along. Usually around 30MPH. Other vehicles will pass me and occasionally I catch up to them when they’ve parked in a ditch or out in the woods. :o) heh heh heh

Sorry folks, I hoped to have a lot more pictures of bad road conditions and driving, but all the bad weather happened when I was busy and didn’t have time to go do more :o Maybe next winter :o)

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