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Wold

Winter Driving Tips from Alaska and elsewhere?

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Hehe, no, this isn't in regards to dog sleds, snowmachines/snowmobiles, or even skiis. Contrary to popular opinions and school teachings (BTW, Alaska is NOT located southwest of California as most maps show cwm25.gif ) we DO have roads (paved even) and motorized cars/trucks up here.

This is prompted by 2 things:

1. 2 weeks ago my sister in Oregon missed a weather clue and went through a rail fence and then wrapped the passanger side of her car around a power pole, shattering said pole. Thank God she walked away w/ only a few scratches from shattered glass and some VERY sore muscles, bones, and neck. BTW, her car was BADLY mangled.

2. I just took a trip to Glennallen (for work) 186 miles 1 way. It was amazing how many diffent types of road conditions I ran into in those few miles.

I've been driving in AK (Alaska) for 20 years. What follows is a few things that I've learned the hard way and by observing others predicaments. That 2nd one is FAR more intertaining! Keep in mind that I'm NOT a professional driver and NONE of the following is endorsed by anyone.

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A coefficient of friction is what keeps your car stuck to the ice and it constantly changes. When this is broken, a slide occurs and when it is regained, your slide will stop. Remember, when in a slide momentum will push the car in a straight line in IT'S desired direction, not necessarally your desired direction.

-Avoid unnecessary SUDDEN moves such as stomping the gas, breaks, or jerking the steering wheel. A miss by 6 inches is as good as miss by 10 feet, except for the adrenaliane rush. Jerking the wheel trying for a 10ft miss could cause the car to slide--straight to what you were trying to avoid. More then once I've settled for a 1ft miss and avoided an accident.

-Weather. Fog and temps 34F or lower can cause "black" ice. Especially in valleys, gullies, bridges, etc. where a breeze can cool the surface, much like a refridgerator works. Also note that if the ground/street is cold enough moisture can freeze on the surface even if the air is too warm for ice. This is the weather condition or clue that my sister missed.

-Tires. Performance of all weather tires will decrease in colder weather. As the rubber gets colder it gets harder, reducing traction. Rubber for winter or snow tires is geared for lower temps and that improves their traction. It's not just the studs in snow tires.

-Frost Heaves. Bumps, or dips caused from cold temps and the way the ground freezes up. Often undetectable until it's way to late to miss them. I've seen cars going 40 mph go airborn over these, not to mention doing it myself. VERY bad when it occurs on corners!!

-Corners. Coast through them. Break well before the corner and accelerate AFTER the corner. DON'T hit the gas when exiting an icy corner...IF the car slides it will launch off the road or into oncoming traffic. This is what my sister did when she hit black ice on the back side of a corner.

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Vehicle Quirks -- every car/truck responds differently. Get used to your vehicle and how it responds to slides/breaking/accelerating on ice if you can. Some places have such limited contact w/ snow and ice that this isn't really possible.

-Anti-lock breaks. These are WONDERFUL. This is an acception where SUDDEN is good, if needed. Smack that peddle to the floor boards and leave it there regardless of what they sound like. I've driven some cars where it sounded as if the axel was falling off. Also note that the break pedal will push BACK against your foot.

-Rear Wheel Drive, STANDARD Transmission. Do NOT downshift on ice. The sudden change in tire speed/drag can cause the back end to fishtail or swing from side to side. I used 3 lanes of road to learn this one and I was going 45mph when I made the first downshift. I got the car back under control and not knowing what I did I downshifted again, causing the process to start all over. cwm24.gif

-Rear Wheel and Front Wheel drives, AUTOMATIC Transmission. Breaking causes the vehicle weight to shift forward causing weight on back wheels to drop. Coupled with the engine throttling down (your foot is no longer on the gas pedal) the back wheels can slide before the front causing the back to swing or fish tail. In a corner it can cause a spin.

-4 Wheel/All Wheel drive. I see more of these guys/gals (being "politically" correct here) in the ditch than 2 wheel drives, front or rear, combinded. WHY? Simple, they assume (tisk tisk) that because they can take off faster on ice they can stop faster. WRONG! Why? Because 2-wheel drive cars have 4 wheel breaks, just like 4 wheel drives. Most of these tend to be SUVs (also known as Stupid Ugly Vehicles, no offense intended-some aren't ugly) and when they go off the road side ways they can flip over and even barrel roll.

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Commodore Wold

ICV-Drakr, Spectre HQ (Antis)

Commanding Officer, Spectre HQ

Spectre Fleet

ICQ 4669033

"You can only love or hate something you truly understand"

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Easiest way to avoid such driving conditions would be to either live or relocate to a geogrphical locality that has a better temperature climate zone biggrin.gif

TTFN

BTW - worse drivers in the world are located in L.A. after a light rain eek.gif

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Fleet Commander Gallion

(Pro Tem)

GCV Graf Spee, Starbase Cerberus

Fleet Leader - Wraith Fleet (Pro Tem)

Wing Leader - Wraith Fleet/Corsair Wing

"Run Silent, Run Deep"

Corsair Cove

Official Tester, Battlecruiser Series

Co-Leader, Team 1

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Down here in Alabama when it snows (it does occasionaly) I leave my car on the road. I have one of those steep driveways but I can handle most of the local roads so long as they run in a valley.

A few years ago I was the only one that made it to work so I put a pallet on the forklift and played snowplow. That was pretty fun.

The last time it snowed was on a friday night I believe. Well everyone beat the snow down as they went home so when we had the hard freeze it all turned into a sheet of solid ice. Luckily it was very bumpy ice and very dry. By Sunday it had thawed some and refrozen again into the bumpy dry ice. I needed something from the store so off I went. Went very slowly and the car did great.

I guess that's the trick. Be careful and aware and go slowly.

One thing though down here. If they officialy close the roads your insurance is null and void for the duration of the closure.

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Vice Admiral Chavik

ICV Phoenix, Sygan Starstation (Sygan)

Fleet Leader - Balor Fleet

Official BC3K Tester

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Yep, I could move to a warmer climate, but when it gets 85F+ I get light headed, sweat, and dizzy... yick... IMO, far easier to pile on the clothes to warm up! One can only strip off sooo many clothes before.... biggrin.gif

Light rain on long used roads.... oil floats a bit and you have black-ice type conditions: In a hurry & Don't think = GRID LOCK!!

The military LOVES to send up warm-weather people to AK for a stint! Pretty easy to spot the rookie "winter" drivers up here! cwm27.gif

Pallet and a forklift as a snowplow?? Must admit that I haven't seen that particular trick before! How's that saying? "Cat is away the mouse will play?

And you're right about speed... I've been on both sides of that particular coin!! cwm24.gif

Road closure?? What's that?? The first winter snowfall causes about 120 to 250 tow-truck required accidents in an 6-8 hr time frame before the "slow-down-idea" penetrates into ower frozen brains...and they still won't close roads!

BTW: Here's a WALKING tip: Keep your weight forward on the balls of your feet, almost a tip-toe. If you start to slip it's much easier to catch your ballance. If your weight is solidly on your heels and you slip...KYBGB (ie, You'll need pain-reliever)

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Commodore Wold

ICV-Drakr, Spectre HQ (Antis)

Commanding Officer, Spectre HQ

Spectre Fleet

ICQ 4669033

"You can only love or hate something you truly understand"

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True, you can avoid bad (winter) driving conditions by living somewhere without winter, but why would you want to do that? The trick is to relize that you have to drive for the conditions...slow down, be careful, and if worst comes to worst, just get off the road until a snowplow comes by.

(Notice the address to the left...coldest national capital in the world...even colder than Moscow, man.)

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Commander Markus Korivak

GCV Norfolk (pending commission), ISSHQ (Saturn)

ISS, Defense Wing

ISS Fleet Defence Wing GCV Norfolk

"Honour is what no man can give you, and no man can take away"

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Yes sir; only in the past few years have our local governments gotten intelligent and assigned sand trucks to the most hazardous routes.

If it gets really bad (probably peanuts to those up north) the State Troopers will officially close the interstates/roads.

Then you are on your own.

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Wanna see the worst drivers in Canada? Come to Calgary. Apparantly we're the #1 worst drivers in Canada.

I should know, I drive with these morons every weekend.

And you should see the roads. They go like 100 down a 70 max street...In WINTER!

Yeah, so we're crazy. So sue us. cwm21.gif

Not my fault I was born here. Maybe someone up there just want's to kill me. Gah.

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Commander Akuma Minako

GCV - Tenchi, Orion Starstation (CENTRIS)

Deterrence Battle Group

www.orion-hq.fsnet.co.uk

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Here's a winter tip: Never drive a Toyota Minivan on an icy road during a windstorm

Nothing like looking out your windshield and seeing the trees go by cwm31.gif

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Keeping it between the ditches

Keeps the **** out of your britches. smile.gif

Rules for driving in winter weather...

1. Easy on the gas.

2. Easy on the brakes.

You'll get there, unless of course you meet one of those morons who forgot to read rules 1 and 2.

cwm1.gif

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Cmdr H. T. Wolferz

GCV-Kentucky, GALCOMHQ (EARTH)

Prime Fleet - Beta Wing

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Another tip:

If the temp is 10F or lower (don't know the Celcius conversion here) DON'T set the emergency brake!! IF there is any moisture on the e-brake system it can freeze, locking the wheels and you'll be stuck! More then 1 person has broken a tranny or engine trying to brake their wheels loose. I've also seen them driving down the road w/ a locked wheel...course it's sliding on the ice/snow. biggrin.gif

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Commodore Wold

ICV-Drakr, Spectre HQ (Antis)

Commanding Officer, Spectre HQ

Spectre Fleet

ICQ 4669033

"You can only love or hate something you truly understand"

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Hehe, finally getting used to winter driving again up here in Wisconsin. Traditionally, we have really harsh winters. The last three years, though, winter has taken mercy on our poor state.

This year, she's back with a vengeance. Monday, we got creamed with a foot of snow. Add 3" to that on Wednesday. More this weekend. We've already beaten last years snow fall totals. And the worst is yet to come. Every year (including the past three), we have a *massive* storm in January. That's when you can see the real Wisconsin drivers from the novices (think: Illinois drivers - worst in the country, IMO).

Anyway, here's a couple of tips from my end:

1 - If you do get caught in a fish-tail, don't brake hard! Ease the breaks repeatedly, while counter-steering (turning the wheel in the opposite of the original turn direction). If you slam the breaks, your car's going to slide out of control, and don't be surprised if you end up looking in the opposite direction from which you want to go.

2 - Dammit, slow down! If you're going too fast, your tires will not get the friction they need on slippery surfaces. If you want to test this theory, fine - just make sure the whole road is all yours, and you have the phone number to AAA programmed into your cell phone.

3 - Don't ride someone's tail (tailgate). If they have to stop suddenly, bear in mind that their tires may be better than yours, meaning, they'll stop before you can, and your insurance company will be receiving a phone call.

4 - To reiterate Wold - sudden is bad...very bad. Your car cannot grab onto the road easily, and a sudden move will through any friction to the road that you may have, to waste.

5 - Regarding "black ice": It's there, believe me. Especially on roads that are not often traveled. The friction of passing cars usually keeps enough heat on the ground to not allow black ice to form. Without cars on the roads, well, the roads are much colder. Also beware of bridges. Cold air under bridges facilitates an even faster formation of black ice. Speaking of bridges, watch out for ones with high crosswinds. Those require some driver compensation even during warm times of year. Imagine what you'll have to do to deal with iced bridges.

6 - A rule around here used to be: keep your gas tank near full when it gets really cold, so the gas cannot freeze. Well, that's big BS. Promise. While it's uncommon, gas does freeze - even in a full tank. And if your tank *is* indeed full, guess what - it'll breach the tank. This normally happens in areas with high humidity in the summer which causes moisture to get into the tank. That water can freeze in the winter, making the tank even colder. So, if you're expecting a *very* cold day, 3/4 of a tank full should do the trick.

7 - The sun sucks. After fresh snow, guess what? The town becomes *really* bright with a lot of sun. Meaning, there's a lot of glare. Wear sun glasses or stay off the road. "I swear, I didn't see you, man." That's because you weren't wearing sun glasses.

That's all I have for now. Come tomorrow, I may think of more. wink.gif

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