Slow and steady driving, please

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Reporter offers handy guide to get through the winter commute

Well, it happened. Much to the chagrin of summer lovers and dry road fans, winter has finally landed with a big thud of fresh white stuff on the ground.

And it’s on the roads too, which means that everybody needs a refresher course on how to drive when your wheels don’t stick to the asphalt the way that they used to, even only a week ago.

First, please slow down. This isn’t much of a challenge for many roadsters as the piles of snow often make it seem like we’re trying to traverse a soft sandy beach. For those of you who balk at the slower traffic with your four-wheel drive and important things to do, you’re not the only ones out there. The rest of us are just trying to get home. Please slow down.

Since we’re all driving slower now, it’s important to remember to leave a little early. I use the rule of one-quarter: if it normally takes me 40 minutes to get somewhere, I’ll leave 50 minutes ahead. That’s 25 per cent more time. That’s just common sense.

When you’re driving, please also leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead of you, even if you are going slower. It will surprise you how little control you have when you have to stop suddenly. Slow and steady wins the race, or the regular commute in this case.

Second, it’s not too late to get those winter tires on. If you haven’t done it already, it’s time. They’re called winter tires for a reason. They’re the right tires for the season. No, I don’t work for a tire company.

And, hey, if you drive one of those nice, sturdy trucks, you could make a lot of friends out there by thinking of winter as the time of helping motorists get out of the ditch. If you’ve got a drivetrain that’s worth a darn then the rest of us would love you to bits if you also had a tow cable and a heart of gold. Lots of us are going to get stuck. If you get us un-stuck then surely oodles of good karma will flow your way.

Even us folks in compact cars and station wagons can make ourselves useful to our fellow motorists by keeping a shovel and a pail of gravel in the trunk. If they don’t come in handy to ourselves then surely we will come across someone who will appreciate them. I hear that floor mats work pretty well in getting people out of the ruts too.

Those of us with youthful knees and backs should always have good gloves and hats on when we see someone who needs a bit of a push.

Now, there’s also the matter of everybody’s vehicles. I assume that we’ve all had our rides winterized, yes? Well, that’s just the first step, after the aforementioned winter tires.

Every day, before you hit the road, walk around and check to make sure that all of your lights front and back are free from snow. Not everybody does this and I don’t know why. They’re kind of important as a way of communicating with other drivers.

At the same rate, take an extra minute to scrape all of your windows – front, back and both sides. They help you to see. You can do this while your car is warming up. Now here’s the kicker: don’t forget the side mirrors.

Remember, spring is still at least four months away. This is Alberta. Winter driving stinks. Let’s all work together to get through this slippery time.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.