Friday, November 19, 2010

Pre-emptive strike: Winter Driving tips for Vancouver Drivers

As a northern girl living in the southern part of the province, I have (for the entire 5 years I’ve lived here) fumed vehemently at the abject stupidity I see on the roads down here. Turn that into blind rage once the snow starts falling and the weather dips to cold. Yes, the Lower Mainland is filled to brimming with intelligent, well-to-do individuals who are smart and pretty and lovely. Problem is, 82% of them don’t know how to drive responsibly. Increase that ten-fold once the cold weather hits.

Now, to be fair, a large majority of the people here didn’t grow up driving in the snow like us Northern folk did, and the concept is still quite foreign. It seems to me that they need new ideas on how to drive in winter; preferably, some good ideas. And since our weather forecast just started to include the white stuff and/or sub-zero tempuratures, I feel the need to address the issue head-on. How else? With a sarcastically laced (yet equally informative) blog post.

Basic information: Slow the $%#@ down.

In winter, we experience something called “cold weather”, a phenomenon that takes our rain drops and turns them into ice drops, and then of course, into icy roads. Icy roads are slippery and 103% of the time, this means your reaction times are cut a doubled half. By slowing down, you give yourself more time to react, therefore, not killing anyone (or yourself) for Christmas. Win-win.

How to stop: yes, it is different than in summertime.

In winter (remember: slippery roads), when you are preparing to stop you need to start preparing before you hit the person in front of you. Ideally: you keep your eyes open while you’re driving, and give yourself lots of (what now?) time. Do not slam your breaks last minute and expect yourself to stop in time for the red light. Slamming your brakes on slippery roads causes your tires to lock and skid across the slipperiness and into other objects, like people, other cars, and or lamp posts. Instead, start slowing down sooner, and try pumping your breaks. That means you brake, let up, break, let up, etc. For this to work, you have to start sooner than you would in a hot-pavemented July.

How to go: what it means when your tires are spinning.

I think my favourite part of winter driving down here is watching people try to take off from the intersection. Point number one: in winter, you don’t “take off”, you just start going…slowly. Point number two: it never works, why do you keep trying it? Like stopping, going in winter requires that you give yourself (all together now) more time. If you slam your foot down quickly on the gas, you can expect yourself to create ice under your tires that will prevent you from going anywhere. Or if you’re really lucky, you will shoot in an unknown direction from the sudden power surge. While that may sound like fun, I suggest you don’t kill me or your carmates. Please & thanks.

Well, that’s all I’ve got so far. But I know for a fact that a lot of you reading this are from Northern BC, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. I am therefore assuming that you know how to drive in winter. Your input can be added to the comments section. Please, this city desperately needs your driving tips.

the girl who does not want to die because someone else was in a hurry.

ps. wouldn't it be ironic if I got into a car accident? Dear Irony: please don't win this time.


.................................................................. said...

Or there is the other side of speeding on icy roads... Like for instance, last night, I got stuck behind a person doing 10km per hour in the middle of the city, for 20 minutes. Please don't do that either. To that person in front of me last night... I blame YOU for my daughter hearing her first curse word. f#$k you.

afterthoughtcomposer said...

hahaha....oh Na that is hilarious. YES, that too! hahah... said...


Mama said...

This is great, I would like to add to it:
Another extremely important point is to add a lot more SPACE between you and the car ahead. A tough concept for Vancouver, I know. Also, if you start to slide on ice, put your car into NEUTRAL. The engine DRIVES your tires and the tires will keep right on spinning when you are on ice. When in neutral the tires stop being DRIVEN, then you can steer the car and control it so much more effectively, it will be like a revelation. Also, if you have ABS brakes, DO NOT PUMP THEM. If you do, you will reduce the braking power. Put the car into neutral and keep your foot on the ABS brakes. Go practice in an empty parking lot.

Colin and Evelyn said...

All sun for me this winter, however the left side of the road is definitely the wrong side and I can't wait to drive on the right again. Snow or no snow.
Be safe!