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Baltimore /DC Massive Snow Fall Driving Etiquette

  1. with all the lanes not being open, drive in a single file, and do not pass, because You don’t know when suddenly two lanes turn into one.

    2) Treat all on ramps getting on to highways as stop signs. There may not be a merge lane, only a pile of snow.

    3) With so many intersections with turn lanes blocked with snow there is going to be traffic jams. Be patient, and courteous to others.

    4) Stay home, and eat all the junk food that you purchased

    5)Please add/or make corrections to the list.

Waste as many “perfectly good hours” as you can listening to old episodes of Car Talk.

I’d like to correct one of the most common pieces of general advice given by various “official” sources. “Drive Slowly.” Well, sort of. Its just not that simple. Sometimes just following a “drive slowly” rule is worse. There are times when one needs to build and maintain momentum, for instance. Trying to “drive slowly” up an icy/snowy hill for example spells disaster for you and everyone else who is around.

You don’t “drive slowly” - you have to drive smartly - which sometimes means drive slowly, but sometimes not. I think that anyone who needs the “Drive Slowly” advice should be at home eating the junk food - no matter what else they think they might have to do. I grew up in upstate NY. Going out in the snow was no big deal. I’m now in VA. I won’t go out in the snow b/c so few people understand how to drive in it. The problems I’ve encountered are always from people who can’t handle it, not from weather.

I agree completely with cigroller.

Near my old place of employment, there was a hill that was a constant source of winter problems because people did not know how to approach it properly. It was commonplace for everything to come to a complete halt on this two lane road because somebody (almost always a “nervous nellie” type of woman) would not accelerate prior to the hill, and instead would try to negotiate it at ~15-20 mph.

When they would begin to bog down on the snowy hill, then they would suddenly try to accelerate, and would usually wind up in a ditch. It was so commonplace for that road to be blocked by a Monte Carlo or a Firebird that had spun out that I soon devised an alternate route where those who did not know how to drive in the snow would be less likely to cause problems for everyone else.

Elegantly put. I have just such a hill near my house in VA and recently had to go “rescue” my wife (who is also from NY) from exactly that kind of situation - though it wasn’t her, but the driver before her that was the problem.

The “nervous nellie” driver was lucky to not end up in a ditch. Unlucky for everyone else, though - she stopped just short of the ditch and blocked up the whole road. She was such a nervous nellie that she would neither try to drive the car, nor allow me to drive it for her. She just sat there looking like she was in shock - quivering and near tears. It took me the better part of 45 minutes to convince her to let me get in and get her off the hill - all the while waiting for a garbage truck to come over the top of the hill. Luckily that part never transpired.

But what the hell makes somebody like that go out in the snow?

This annoys me too. As you say, sometimes you need momentum or you’ll end up in a more dangerous situation. Another related issue is that some drivers are unwilling to spin their wheels even though that’s the right thing to do sometimes. I’m not normally one to stereotype by gender, but this one does seem to break down along those lines more than other things.

Stay Home!!!

I appreciate your efforts to make some sense in a very difficult situation. It is especially tough when so many people have so little experience driving in such conditions. Even around here, experienced drivers need a storm or two to have the safety mode kick in…let alone in cars in areas like this that aren’t suitably prepared for such conditions. In single file, it just takes one car with poor tires to create problems for everyone else.

Hence the advantages of awd…as you know better than most. Not having to gun it just to make a hill is a huge safety advantage. If not, I agree, accelerate as much as you have to, but gauge your speed so you begin to slow as you crest the hill. It has to be really tough on all those folks w/o winter driving experience.

I agree, drive sensibly. Sometimes that means using momentum when you need to. I’m in central VA, and I’ve been getting around okay my supercharged Mustang on summer tires though. I did drive the Bronco when the roads were still covered in snow, but once the plows made a pass or two, the Mustang gets around fine.

I’m in downtown DC

  1. Sit at your front window, sip your favorite hot beverage and watch your neighbors spend the entire afternoon cleaning off their cars and digging out a path to the through lane, only to have a plow push a ridge of snow back against the car and the next storm cover the car again.

with the two storms there is 50’ of snow on the ground now. looking out the window Snow is at the top of the first window panel on the ground level looking out!

Its the land of big white piles of snow.

I’m in a rural area but this is exactly why I need to move to a city! (At least in the winter).

  1. Get a Subaru with studded snows like me and go where you want, when you want and pretty much any speed you want…Is that Subris?

Not just Subris, but illegal. You can’t have studded tires in MD, nor do you need them more than once or twice in a lifetime. This was a once in forever storm. We got over 4 feet of snow this week.

Great idea for a thread, americar. Up here in Lancaster, PA we got the same storm, but we only totaled 20-24". The Mayor declared a snow emergency which means you can’t park on about half of the streets in town till Sunday. They let you park free in the Parking garages, though.

Yesterday a friend of mine was turning left after stopping at a stop sign in a residential urban area. There was a snowmobile apparently going well over the 25 MPH speed limit, off to my friend’s right, on the perpendicular street. It had the right of way, but shouldn’t

have been on the city streets. Whether the snowmobile had its headlight on I don’t know. Visibility was very poor; blizzard conditions. The snowmobile hit the R/F fender of my friend’s car; both riders were killed. So now there’s 2 less human beings in the world and my friend is completely overwhelmed with grief.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and that’s that if anyone reads this and takes from it that we always, every second we’re driving, have to use common sense, whether we’re on a snowmobile, ATV, car, whatever–then maybe there is a silver lining.

Natural selection in real time.

4’ of snow in a week in MD is devastating…4’ in Upstate NY in a week is almost seen several times a year…but they have the equipment and know-how to deal with it. Many of the roads and towns are designed to accommodate the amount of snow they get. When I got back from Nam I was stationed at Ft Brag for a few months…We had a 8" snow-storm…it almost shut the area down for a week.