23 tips for driving in the North

If you’re driving in a snow-covered state this winter, here are some basics, presented with my normal lack of scrutible levity.

  1. Don’t drive a car with rear wheel drive. Dumbass.
  2. AWD and anti-lock brakes are “features,” but pretty much required gear
  3. Check your tread
  4. Check your fluids
  5. Don’t forget your ice scraper
  6. Get a decent cell phone carrier and charge your phone before leaving home
  7. When dressing to go out, pretend you’re already stuck in a ditch with 3’ of snow and your cell phone is dead1
  8. Whiskey doesn’t actually warm you up, drive sober
  9. Get decent, lined driving gloves, because driving with numb body parts is not that much better than driving drunk
  10. Buy flares, and keep them in your trunk
  11. Those little chemical hand warmers they sell at Fleet Farm, Farm & Fleet or whatever store drunk deer hunters go to where you’re driving are really, really useful when you get stuck
  12. When feasible, use second gear when starting from a stop, and drive one gear up from where you normally would
  13. Brake early, cars braking on ice remain in motion until acted upon by other cars
  14. Assume patches of snow have ice under them
  15. Assume patches without snow are ice
  16. If you can’t see the dashed line between lanes, use the snowbank on your right as a guide to where the road is and judge lane width from there
  17. Follow the lines in the snow, i.e. “the road more traveled”
  18. If your car has “sport mode” or “ESP” remember to toggle it when you need to pull out of a spin or get out of a ditch
  19. Know how to pull out of a spin or slide. You learn this by whipping shitties in parking lots as a teenager. If you’re already an adult who doesn’t know how to feel out an ice slide, it might be too late.
  20. When being pulled out of a ditch, turn the the steering wheel away from the hill. Basically, do the opposite of what your brain tells you
  21. Don’t accelerate into turns or too soon after turning the wheel
  22. A clutch and e-brake are actually really handy snow-driving tools, but don’t fuck with it if you haven’t had some practice
  23. If any of this does not make sense, stay home

Side note to my Wisconsin friends: if you’re driving in a non-Wisconsin state, note that 25mph is not a normal speed limit. Also, slower traffic moves right. If someone comes up behind you and repeatedly flashes their brights while you’re in the left lane, it does indeed mean you’re being stupid.

Thank you for reading, and stay safe out there. Except for folks who have 50°+ weather right now, you just watch out for heavy rain and teenage pregnancy.

  1. even if you don’t wear it all, have it in the main compartment of the vehicle

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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