Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winter Driving

My sister, Pat, and brother-in-law, John, just walked away a wreck after they hit some black-ice and rolled their car. They were returning from their first visit to their new grand-son in Innisfil (near Barrie) when the accident happened. The car rolled three times before landing upside down in the ditch at the side of the road. Except for a some sore muscles, they are completely unhurt.

My friend Paul commutes between Toronto and Barrie everyday. On the Thursday before the Easter long weekend he was driving home on a back road to avoid the traffic on highway 400, when the back end just stepped out. He caught it. The truck swung the other way and he caught it again. The next thing he remembers is waking up, upside down, stunned, but otherwise unhurt. The truck had flipped end over end several times and landed on its roof. He had hit a stretch of black-ice 150 feet long. Paul is a an exceptional driver but there was no way he was driving out of that much ice.

Black-ice is the only winter driving hazard that I actually fear. In the best case you see cars ahead of you losing control on the ice, so you have a small chance to react. If there are other cars around you, it is unlikely you will escape without some damage. In worst case you don't see the ice and hit it unexpectedly, at full speed. The very best drivers might have some chance to control the skid, but the rest of us will just become passengers. The skid control rules are the same (don't panic, steer, don't brake) but on ice the skid does not scrub off much speed, so you have very little time to react.

No comments:

Post a Comment