Home > Safety > Driving In Snow or What Are You Thinking?

Driving In Snow or What Are You Thinking?

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the Forest and Vegetation Management Conference in Redding, California. This is usually a short little two hour drive, however, with the current winter storm that finally arrived, there was a bit of snow and it became a 3 1/2 hour trip. Heading south was slow, but fine, slush, packed snow, ice…the usual for our area. Southbound was requiring chains on everything except 4×4’s.

The presentation went very well, I met some wonderful forest revegetators, caught up with some old friends and opened a few doors of opportunity.

My trip home was another story. Northbound was shut down to semi’s and two wheel drives towing trailers, chains on two wheel drive vehicles and 4×4’s were with snow tires were fine. Over the course of the two hours from Redding north, I could not believe what I experienced.

1. If you are stopped to put on chains, pull off to the area provided. Do not stop in the slow lane and open your door without looking. Yes, your door will come off the hinges. You are lucky your head and legs were still in the car. (Note: I did not take the door off, it was the pickup in front of me.)

2. Once you put chains on your car, leave them on until you get out of the controlled area, specifically, out of the snow and ice. Do not drive out of the sight of the check point, take them off, fly by me like a maniac while going down a hill, spin into the snow bank on the side of the road and then expect me to help pull you out. In my humble opinion, it is much better to slow down, chain up and arrive at your destination safely and a bit late, than take a trip to the hospital or morgue.

3. When driving down a slope on packed ice, slow down at the top and do not use your brakes suddenly, especially when going around a corner. Yes, you will lose traction, you will go into a spin, you will maintain your rate of speed and you will take out both of the vehicles in front of you.

4. Give a wide berth when passing snow plows, there is a reason for the sign on the rear that says “Use Caution When Passing.” Yes, if you pass too closely you will hit the blade, it can spin you around and a snow plow can easily push you sideways down the interstate.

Sorry if I am coming across a bit sarcastic,  but if you have not driven in snowy conditions and do not have to, don’t, stay home, stay safe. If you have to navigate in these conditions, use the designated chaining areas, obey the chain restrictions, slow down, use commonsense…you are not the only one on the highway.

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  1. January 19, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Glad to know you made it home safely. I’m definitely a firm believer in the stay at home philosophy! And i’ll be volunteering to do that whenever the weather isn’t nice!

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Thank you JP…sure isn’t Hawaii is it? 🙂

  2. Jim Dunbar
    January 19, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Jeff, I have to share this with my Dad who lives in Cody, Wyoming after spending almost 30 years with CalTrans in Redding. I used to broker Christmas trees out of Oregon and saw a lot of what you are talking about. One of my truck drivers one year went to meet us in Mollala in shorts and flip flops to load at Thanksgiving because he was a pallet hauler from Pomona. We should have zip tied his trash bag rain coat.

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 19, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      I must have seen at least three people putting on chains in shorts and jumping up and down to stay warm…do people not check conditions before they head out?

  3. Sandy Livesay
    January 20, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    Jeff, I don’t understand people any more. Most feel their the only ones on the road therefore, they can do as they please. What happen to driving safely, following the laws, using commonsense? Now a days, it seems people do everything in their vehicles but drive. When I am driving my truck, I don’t put makeup on, text, talk on my cell phone, read or do anything that causes me to be distracted from driving. I follow the law. If you don’t know how to drive when it is snowing, or when there is ice, fog, or rain then by all means stay off the road!!!!!

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 23, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      I refrain from the makeup too 😉

      It’s sad that some folks seem to forget that they aren’t the only ones on the road.

      Thanks for posting Sandy.

  4. January 20, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    And why didn’t you mention you were at the Veg Conference? I was there all day the day before…I did hear a comment that you did a great job…

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      Sorry Mark…I was hoping to surprise you 🙂

  5. January 21, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    I drive to Mammoth to ski about 15-20 times every winter. I take my AWD truck and have yet to need chains. Sometimes they are required, but I just drive VERY SLOW and I’ve done just fine. I got them in the truck if ever I really get stuck in the muck. But, for me, snow is good for ONE THING: skiing!

    • commonsenseagriculture
      January 23, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Learned to ski while at Colorado State…love the snow…especially when feeding cows. It’s so peaceful and serene.

  1. January 21, 2012 at 1:50 PM
  2. September 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

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