A nervous driver from Chicago talks to Texans about driving on snow and ice.
I saw a tweet from a woman in Texas who wanted to get out of there but was afraid to drive on the snow and ice. I get that because it happens a lot in Chicago, and no, I never got used to it. My message back to her was “If I can do it, so can you.”
I have no credentials for teaching driver’s ed other than my own experience, my fear that helps me understand their fear, and a day at Northwestern Driving School to beat a speeding ticket 15 years ago, a great experience really. The teacher was hilarious, I learned a lot and the time went quick. I recommend it even if you don’t get a ticket.
At NW Driving School, I learned the real meaning of steer into the skid. That’s a bad term because it’s not what it sounds like. Steering into the skid means turn the wheel in the direction the back tires are sliding. Another way to think about it is steer the way you want to go. The latter is the easier and more intuitive method and what they taught at NW Driving School.
Gear. If you decide to hit the road, there is gear. I recommend a shovel, blankets and kitty litter. Kitty litter will help you get out if you get stuck. You put it under the wheel that can’t get out of the ice or snow. Bring a flash light and extra batteries. Don’t use your phone flashlight because you might need your phone as a phone and don’t want to drain the battery. Stash a first aid kit in your car. There are car aid kits too that include a battery charger, jump cables and a pump for the tires. I got stuck in a parking lot once and a man was able to help me because I had the gear.
More Gear. Snacks like crackers, trail mix, nuts, cookies, chips. Swiss Army Knife, sturdy garbage bags, toilet paper, chap stick, gloves, pandemic masks, extra socks.
Other Advice. Drive slowly. Slowly like a creep. Keep a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you. If someone gets close to you from behind, let them pass. However, in letting someone pass you, be careful not to get yourself into a snow bank. I once pulled over to let an impatient person go past me, and a plow truck sped up ahead of me and plowed me in. I had to dig out. Hence the shovel. Also, check your tires with one of those pressure testers before you leave.
Wear brightly colored clothing, something that can be seen in a blizzard, orange or red.
Know your brakes. Read the brake section of your car manual to make sure you break correctly for your car.
Go during the day. Try not to go alone. Try not to make a lot of stops. Try to have a set destination and know the distance to it. Know your gas mileage and size of your gas tank. Don’t overload your battery by turning on everything electric in the car. Check your windshield wipers to make sure they’re working against snow. Even if it’s not snowing at the time your car and other cars will kick up snow. Make sure your hood is down and secure. My grandma’s hood once popped up during a bad snow and it broke her windshield wipers.
If the snow is high and they’re not plowing at all, don’t go. A co-worker of mine once got stuck for hours on Lake Shore Drive in high snow that fell too fast for the plows to keep up. Cars could not navigate it.
If you do go and you’re scared, sing.