We just got home an hour or so ago right in front of some more freezing rain, feeling pretty good about ourselves we parked the car and started moving stuff into the house. About 4 minutes later the car starts heading down the hill towards the neighbors rig and the BIG hill, which would have ended poorly except it stopped on a small bump before it could get to far (about 15'). A post-mortem of the situation revealed that the tires, hot from having covered some 600+ miles straight, had melted the thin layer of snow on the driveway which refroze into ice under them which let the rig break free. Once it got going gravity and newtons first law kicked in until it was luckily stopped by the bump. A quick shoveling followed by some sand and ice melt got the parking area of the driveway into good shape (you know you live in the frozen north when you always have sand and ice melt in stock ).
This got me thinking about some of the stuff I saw in areas where folks don't get to much snow/ice and how they (sometimes) failed to deal with it very well and thought I might make a short list of things I saw along the way (not that places where people should know better always deal with this stuff as maybe they ought to either). Please feel free to add your own or correct misstatements in mine
- Shovel the snow before putting down ice melt. Otherwise you're just making water which will freeze into more ice which takes longer to thaw and is worse!
- Shovel the snow before driving or walking on it. Once its packed down its a whole lot more annoying/work to deal with (and if it re-freezes to ice can be impossible to clear). Ice also takes 4-5 time longer to melt than snow and if you can expose the road/driveway sooner rather than later any sun will knock the rest off much quicker (even at below freezing temperatures blacktop heats up pretty fast).
- If you can, wait until the sun has hit the road for an hour or so, it will soften up the ice/snow and make it less "glassy" so it won't be quite as slick.
- Clear that layer of ice/snow off of the top of your car. Otherwise it will come off at the worst moment, either when you stop (obscuring your vision, possibly wreaking your wipers if lots of ice) or on the road when it can fly off into someone elses windshield. I saw several cars stopped at parking lot exits while the owner shoveled off the windshield from everything sliding forwards on this trip, lucky for them all I saw happened where it was easy to get out and clear it off...
- Watch for the "truck droppings" (big chucks of ice/snow off of the bottom of cars/trucks), those are basically solid blocks of ice and can really wreck the underside of your rig
- Be nice (and smart) and kick the truck droppings off of your truck/car when you stop every so often so you don't leave them for others.. or have them fall off and run over them yourself.
- Stay back please! Tailgating is always a bad idea, but the folks who do it on ice are really get my goat. You ain't going to be able to stop if you need to and I don't need you running into me!
- Don't gun it! Stomping on the gas ain't going to get you anywhere (except maybe the ditch) and is almost as bad as slamming on the brakes (maybe worse nowadays with all the magic braking systems). I can't count how many folks don't seem to get this one, easy on, easy off and you'll get there. If you can't go forward gunning it likely won't help, maybe backup a smidge then try easing forward.
- Sharpen your ice scraper. 5 minutes with a file makes that ice peal off so much easier (doesn't have to be complicated, just get rid of the divots and don't make to thin of an edge). I sharpened ours before the trip and its well due for another round now (chipping ice out of the wheel wells didn't help - the Santa Fe holds the road well, but really seems to be bad for accumulating ice .. everywhere!).
- Do NOT use cruise control in slick conditions. A co-worker flipped his car 4 times at ~80mph (and luckily wasn't hurt) a couple years back largely because he used cruise control (and was going to fast and stomped the brakes.. but it all adds up ).
- Do NOT pass snow plows or sanding trucks!! Especially on the right but generally at all!! They can catch a bump in the road and twist sideways faster than you can blink and many have blades that stick way out further than you'd expect (not to mention they're throwing snow/ice chunks/rocks/gravel off the right side). That was one of the more cringe worthy moments we had on this trip when a car passed us and then the plow in front of us on the right and the plow caught and swung at them (barely missing by maybe a foot or so).
- Finally SLOW DOWN! I've been in lots of bad weather and watched plenty of folks with more ambition than me fly by and spin off into the ditch (a particularly memorable occasion was during an ice storm in Portland a few years ago when I saw at least 5 cars spin off the road or into the divider in a ~6 mile stretch of road while we breezed on through at 1/4 the speed - literally everyone that passed us ended up in the ditch). And yes I've certainly seen a lot of 4x4s (and around here Subarus which so many people somehow think are invincible its a local running joke) upside down in the ditch as well.