"They don't know how to drive in snow"

I hear this a lot, but it seems to mean different things to different people.

  1. I can get to where I’m going just as quickly in snow as I do when there’s none. I’m a skilled driver, I’m familiar with snow, and I’m prepared with snow tires or chains. If you’re going slowly it’s a sign you don’t know how to drive in snow.

  2. I can get to where I’m going safely when it snows. I’ve got plenty of experience with snow. It may take longer, because I’m moving at 20mph instead of 45mph, but I never lose control of the vehicle. I’m prepared with snow tires or chains. People who drive too quickly in snow don’t know what they’re doing.

2A. Same as 2, but without snow tires.

  1. When it snows, I just take the truck. It’s much easier to drive in snow when you have four-wheel drive. When all those clueless drivers in their sedans and compacts go off the road, I’m the one who pulls them out.

  2. I’ve never driven in snow before, but I use good common sense.

I consider myself a 2A. To me, the bad-in-snow drivers are the ones going too quickly, and the ones who believe owning a truck doesn’t require them to have good driving skills.

How about you? What do you think good snow-driving skills are?

The times I’ve heard people say this they seemed to mean “those other people got in an accident, and I didn’t.” Or “they got stuck, and I didn’t.” And they don’t really provide much of an explanation.

Anybody who tells me that he knows how to drive in snow and therefore feels fine driving his normal speed in it is self-identifying as a clueless dick who leaves a trail of spun-out cars in his wake as people around him freak the fuck out because somebody’s driving the speed limit when there’s 4" of snow on the ground. “Hey, I’m not the one who got into an accident, so I must be driving safely” makes as much sense as “Hey, I’m not pulling the cat’s tail; I’m just holding it. The cat’s pulling.”

My usual comment to cars that zip past me at near-normal speed in bad conditions: Wave bye-bye and say “Okay, you go on ahead and have your accident; we’ll wait back here.”

A lot of people, especially those in four wheel drive vehicles think they can’t skid in them.

Well we’ve all seen this happen so it obviously isn’t so. I don’t know where they got that idea from

When I lived in Utah, we’d get lots of people at the University who came in from sunny California. Right after the first snoefall, you’d have accidents. I figured the California drivers, for the most part, weren’t familiar with the Facts of Snow Driving Life – like starting to slow well before a changing traffic light. I can’t prove that was the case, but it seemed likely.

This is my brother to a tee. He was a big Dodge Ram 4WD with a snow plow. This never keeps him off the road even in the biggest of snow storms but is of the firm opinion those who are in lesser vehicles simply have no business out on the roads especially if they want him to pull them out of trouble.

Hmm, 1-3? I have several AWD vehicles, all with aggressive snow (and ICE!) tires on them, I am a skilled driver and very familiar and experienced with driving in winter. Drive for the conditions, and keep your vehicle in a good state of repair.

I usually am one of the ones near the speed limit for light snow, but definitely slow down and drive as appropriate for the conditions. IMHO, people who are not prepared for the weather (either by lack of driving skills or car condition) are the dangers, regardless of the speed at which they are traveling.

I think that’s the case. Unless you live in the higher mountains or go there to ski you may never encounter snow. It’s not at all rare for adults to have never seen it before, never mind drive in it and they spend a lot of time slamming on the brakes and spinning out if they have to do it. I’m in the lower elevation mountains and we get a little bit once in a while and people break out the chains if there’s half an inch. The first time I drove in snow after 15 years I fishtailed a bit before I got a feel for it again.

Word. I’m from the East, so I dealt with snow for most of my life, but now I live in Cal. We had cold weather and rain last night, and the news was freaking out. There was the possibility of black ice in a few places, which required long stories. It also got below freezing in a few areas, and they were acting as if the new Ice Age had begun. When I was at the Univ. of Illinois, this would be streaking weather. (It didn’t get above freezing for one entire month.)

I’d love a big snowstorm here. It would get a lot of cars off the road and be great for the body shops. And I still have my snow shovels.

“Knowing how to drive in snow” means actually adjusting how you drive. People who continue to drive the way they always do when there’s snow on the road do NOT know what they’re doing.

You need to leave a bigger space cushion because you can’t brake as suddenly.

You need to start slowing down earlier.

You need to go at a more reasonable speed when you make a turn.

You need to signal earlier so that people around you have more time to prepare for what you’re planning to do.

Folks who think they have “skills” that somehow allow them to get away without doing the above are idiots. That list is the “skills”, and more besides, but those are the basics. That is “how to drive in snow”. Anyone who thinks they can just carry on as usual will end up in a ditch or against a pole.

I’m a 2A.

Anyone who is a #1 is an idiot. “Knowing how to drive in snow” = “knowing you have to go slow and keep lots of space between you and the next car.”

A lot of driving in snow is assessing the situation. 'Round here, they take really good care of the roads. A lot of the time, you can drive normal speeds. You never need snow tires or chains (in fact, I think chains are illegal.)

When I lived in Colorado’s Front Range, that wasn’t true. They didn’t plow enough, and they didn’t use the proper stuff to keep ice off the roads. You had to go really slow in even the smallest bit of snow.

In my view, it isn’t a solely question of how quickly I can personally drive in snow. It’s a question of my faith in the ability in other drivers to respond to what I’m doing, and vice-versa.

If you assume the other drivers are gripping the wheel with white knuckles and may careen into your lane at any moment, it makes you drive like Ripley sneaking through the alien egg-queen lair: slowly, carefully, with a watchful eye.

I agree with Max’s post, with the caveat that option 2 in the OP can be just as dangerous as the other options if there are only a handful of people on the road going 20mph in the regularly 45mph zone when the conditions are perfectly suited for going 30mph.

Exactly. Half of “knowing how to drive in snow” is really “knowing how to drive when everyone else around you doesn’t know how to drive in snow”.

I’m 2A, minus the experience. I’m not completely inexperienced but this is my first winter driving alone (last winter I had my learners and I did do a fair bit of driving but the roads were usually pretty clear when I got to them, and I didn’t deal with rush hour). I’ve managed pretty well so far, despite some internal freaking at times.

Last night I was slightly freaking between the person going too slow in front of me (30kmph, when the rest were going 50kmph on a road that in good conditions is 80) and the person riding waaay too close on my tail. I find its the guys in pick up trucks like my Dad’s that are the ones who drive way too close to me. I’d barely consider it safe in summer to be that close, nevermind in winter.

I am definitely a #1 and I do everything in Max’s list. You can do all those things and still end up driving faster than 90% of the other cars on the roads. I feel far safer going 10mph faster and getting away from all the other idiots than I do sitting in the middle of a cluster of cars creeping along at 20mph. So when I zip by you, it doesn’t mean I’m driving faster than conditions allow, it just means you’re driving slower than is necessary. :wink:

Never had any accidents, never caused any accidents, never slid off the road, never got stuck anywhere but my own driveway.

And vice-versa!

I currently live in Canada and grew up in Michigan. I’ve driven in SNOW, whiteout conditions and ice storms. I went on a holiday to go caving in Texas a few years back, during the Christmas season. There was a freak “snow storm”. This “storm” dusted the roads with barely two inches of snow, no ice, and visibility was fine. It was like the kind of snow we used to get around Hallowe’en back home.

It was definitely #4. Everyone was crawling because they didn’t seem to know how to stop or start.

Since I was traveling the regular speed limit, a state trooper pulled me over for “reckless driving”, but then he let me go without even a warning because I wasn’t breaking any laws and had a Canadian driver’s license. He just said something along the lines of “Oh, so you’re used to this.” Before sending us on our way.


Except the Plow truck never leaves my house. I drive my SUV 12 months a year. It does just fine.

I drive about 180 days a year in 4x4. Last winter we measured 30 feet of snow at our house. Snow does not phase me a bit.

In DC there seems to be this complete choke when it snows the slightest bit. I lived in Ann Arbor for 8 years and there driving on packed snow in the winter is not unheard of. There were certain etiquette rules: If a driver was stuck in the snow anyone close had to stop and get out and push.

When I was at the University of Michigan, one winter there was a two-week run when it never got above 9[sup]o[/sup]. So people from places like that tend to poo-poo the folks in our Nation’s Capital. But I’ve come to a different conclusion. The temperatures here make winter driving really treacherous, since they so often hover near freezing and roads that are merely wet turn icy without warning.

However, D.C. is the only place I’ve lived where traffic can crawl to a stop in a summer rain. :rolleyes:

Unfortunately Urbana and Champaign IL have laughably insufficient plowing capabilities. They shut down the university for 2 days for only ~15" a couple of years back. There are definitely plenty of folks around U of I that “don’t know how to drive in the snow.” Think locked breaks sliding through intersections, spinning out on too-fast turns, overcompensating by driving at 5 mph, etc.

You should see El Paso TX on one of the few days when it rains :eek:.