Saturday, May 1, 2010

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

This would have been ideal.

Now that the Ohioan winter is firmly behind us, I can turn around and stick my tongue out at it (figuratively, of course).

A little context for you. I am a native Floridian. Worse, I'm from South Florida. Our driving exams are notoriously lackadaisical. I completed mine down in Homestead (our farming country), where the instructor was easily bribed by young women offering baked goods. I'm fairly certain I would have failed any driving test administered north of West Palm Beach.

Miami in particular has terrible traffic at all times of the day, poor road quality, and people who feel entitled to reinterpret traffic laws. Heck, some Floridians don't even know how to drive in the rain, and it rains ALL THE TIME.

See? It's not that difficult!

Somehow, I relocated to northeast Ohio in July with nary a thought about the colossal pain driving in snow would be. Picture me in December sitting in a Dodge Ram 1500 (not a 4X4), with no sand bags or other added weight in the truck bed and no snow tires because I kept putting off their purchase. People started placing bets on whether I'd survive the winter or not.

What saved me from almost certain death? I actually drive o.k. in the rain, and as it turns out, driving in the rain is similar to floating over snow. After months of sobbing in my truck during braving 45 minute to 1.5 hour commutes on snow-crusted highways, I've cobbled together some general survival tips for my lucky readership:

1. Purchase the off-roading tiretracks (pictured above) from

Can't, or don't want to for whatever boring reason? Then:

2. Don't make any sudden accelerations
3. Don't make any sudden decelerations, either
4. Don't make jerky steering inputs
5. Do follow in the path of other vehicles (mostly for snow)
6. Invest in good windshield wipers
7. Go at a pace you're comfortable with, even if your passengers call you a sissy

If you happen upon a virgin expanse of snowy road, then you're unlucky. This usually happens around three or four in the morning, so it's usually not a problem for upstanding, responsible citizens.

A note about number seven: I may not love driving in winter, but I am looking forward to the entertainment overly-cocky owners of jacked up 4X4s can provide. These monstrous trucks will scream by you on highways, but you'll invariably find them sunk in a snow bank a couple of miles later. You'll get to chuckle while they wait a long time for a tow truck. They felt comfortable at 50 mph in the snow. The point? Be realistic in your "comfort zone", and stay well below the speed limit.


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