If you were on I-39/90 south of Madison between February 5-6, 2008, you know how horrible winter driving can be. There are two days listed in this story because the freeway became impassable due to heavy snow. The freeway became a parking lot and drivers were stuck for 12 hours until sherrifs on ATV’s came to rescue people that were needing water and medical attention.
Are you prepared for winter driving conditions?
I used to do a lot of driving around Wisconsin. One year, I put 60,000 miles on my car. I have driven in plenty of snow storms, ice storms, freezing rain, and freezing fog (yes, there is such a thing). In my trunk of my car I had the following items in winter:
A small shovel (to dig myself out of snow)
A bag of cat liter (for tire traction)
Road flares (so other cars could see me in distress)
Winter hat (I didn’t always wear a winter hat while I was working, so I had an extra one in case)
In my car, I tried to have extra water (not counting the half-full water bottles that my wife and kids always left in my car). I also made sure that my phone was charged and had the phone number of my motor club and insurance information in my contacts. My gas tank was always kept at half-tank or higher, just in case I was stranded for a long period of time. At least I could keep the engine running for heat.
What is the best way to stay safe in winter weather? Don’t drive at all. But if you find yourself having to drive in treacherous and slippery conditions, give yourself time and space. What I mean by time is to leave as early as possible for your destination so you don’t feel rushed to get there in the bad conditions. Ask any law enforcement officer about why most accidents happen in winter driving conditions and they will say “driving too fast for conditions”. Even if you have a nice 4×4 SUV or pick-up truck. Those vehicles can handle the snow better than a Toyota Prius, but they cannot stop any better! Slow down. Take your time. Give more space! Allow at least 3-4 car lengths in front of you because even if you see the car ahead of you stop, you will still slide right into that person if you don’t allow enough space (and you ignored the advice about slowing down!)
We live in a snowy climate and you are going to have to deal with adverse driving conditions. If you are prepared with a trunk full of emergency supplies and give yourself time and space on the road, you should be able to handle any winter weather that comes your way!