Driving bailout plan

I have to do a couple our drive in the am, there is supposed to be some light snow.

After all the multi car pileups I was thinking about what the best way to handle the car if I was in that situation.

My thought is to stay in an edge lane with a ditch, hit the brakes so the abs kicks in and slowly steer off the road as far as need be.

Hopefully it would work on black ice also. Any thoughts or experiences?

All bets off on black ice-Kevin

Experience, lots of experience, has taught me that unless you absolutely, positively, MUST drive you should stay home. And 99.9% of the drives that we think we MUST make could actually be rescheduled or handled in some other way. Really think hard about whether you actually NEED to make this drive.

If you truly MUST make the drive,

  1. stay in the most used lane. Lane changes cause you to go over slippery ridges and are a common cause of loss of control. Do not change lanes.

  2. go slow. VERY slow.

  3. leave LOTS of space between the vehicle in front of you and yourself. LOTS and LOTS of space.

  4. brake slowly, but do not pulse the brakes. Let the ABS do that for you.

  5. plan far ahead and turn very slowly… and at very slow speeds.

  6. make sure you have ice scrapers, an ice brush with squeegee, and some kitty litter.

  7. carry a charged cell phone, an auto club card, your insurance information, AND a credit card. You might have to stop at a hotel… and DO NOT HESITATE TO DO SO.

  8. Last, but not least DO NOT DRIVE HOME. Plan to stay at your destination until the storm has passed and the roads have been cleared. In '77 people stranded on major interstate highways actually died in their cars. Don’t become a statistic.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the only truely safe place in a storm is in your chaise lounge watching the storm on TV.

Agree with the above comments, stay hunkered down until the road crews can treat the roads. But if you you do get caught on ice, something that has worked for me is to get the passenger tires onto the shoulder if it is clear, there is usually dirt, gravel etc that can give some traction. Once you are done puckering up, pull over at the next hotel, fast food place etc and wait it out

Definitely stay home if possible until the conditions improve. There was a section of road about 1/4 mile in length in western Colorado where I used to live that was really treacherous sometimes, the cold north wind would blow in the exact direction on that section on occasion to cause severe black ice conditions. Well known to the locals, who’d avoid it, but folks passing through didn’t know what to expect. Without 4WD and chains (studded tires, not good enough), there was simply no way to maneuver through that section without being blown off the road and into the ditch. When it was happening, there’d be several police cars with lights flashing, tow trucks all over the place, so I’d pull over and just watch. Car after car would try it, some would maybe almost make it, then a big gust of wind would come and blow them into the ditch. Wasn’t unusual to see 25 cars blown into the ditch, oft times the only thing preventing a car going into the ditch was that another car was there first. One car would be leaning against another. Me, when I saw this happening, even though I had 4WD, I’d just turn around and go back the way I came.

I hear you all, but paying $220 to attend a conference in WI does not mean 1" of snow or less should deter me. Will kill if things get dicey, but the small snows are as dangerous as the big snows!

Doctors, firefighters, EMTs.
Those are the only folks who really have to go out there.
Remember snowmageddon? I sat in my living room and sipped on tea spiked with rum and watched my neighbors dig their cars out for hours.

@circuitsmith I am jealous, Went to work have 4wd in my vehicle and work vehicle, When a water main breaks, you have to fix it, when a customer water service is frozen you have to fix it, now I am a gis network database phone and computer security guy, but been out quite a bit dragging cables 200 feet or so, maybe 6 guage to use a 400 amp arc welder to thaw frozen services. Shoveling and salting sidewalks due to main breaks, and yes it was nice at 18 degrees today, so I am basically an emergency responder, and have to go, around town I am fine but driving on the expressway is a whole nother animal. Don’t have to go but will go, just trying to come up with plan b if I get into a situation. Little snow is as dangerous as big snow, like the 24" we got 2 years ago, but gowsh would 1" or less be dangerous yes, but I need to go anyway.

Being in healthcare, I can not stay home. When we were in the Northeast, I drove through many storms/blizzards-you name it. I had a small stick shift car with decent tires. The key as mentioned was speed. I always went slow and kept my distance, so that just letting go of the gas pedal was enough to avoid an accident. I say quite a few accidents on my way and also a few cars in the ditches. Most of them were bigger cars/4wd cars probably with drivers that had big ego’s too. Set your alarm clock accordingly, because you will be going ~10-20 MPH.

I have found 35 mph as a comfortable speed in snow ice conditions, will add an extra hour drive time.

If you mean to drive the edge near the side of the road, that’s an excellent idea. Assuming you are caught in icy conditions, we do that all of the time. The untraveled areas, whether they be paved or not, tend to offer the best traction. The plowed areas are the slipperiest. You couldn’t do that well without abs and traction control, but when our road is all iced up, the snow offers much more traction then ice and ice over snow is much better then ice over pavement . Good thoughts ! We have had completely iced over roads that are very steep. If you are lucky enough to have 4 wd and traction control, deep snow or some snow is your ally, both braking and accelerating.


I am in the same boat, it sucks but it must be done. I work for an electric utility, and as we like to say, there are no schedules in the electric business, people expect it to work 24-7-365. I always like to say usually when the storm is coming and people are heading to their basements for cover, we are heading into work.

I have slept at the building when I was on call and we got really bad ice or snow. I hate winter.

@dagosa I will go into a ditch to avoid an accident. @wheresrick I used to hate winter, it has been 3 years since we had to go thaw services, but we are out now and it is what we do, it is not so bad if you are prepared for it, though 14 below was tough. And this weekend we will be above freezing, I had to prep some photos for a court case, looking at pictures of green grass was so cool!

All us peeps with power thank you and yours @wheresrick

@Barkeydog @WheresRick
I know exactly where you guys are comming from. I did a lot that required being there from being in the military to driving an ambulance, plowed snow as a contractor, to working as a cop to officiating college BB games where the teams would be there a day or two before any storm and everyone was ready to play while my partners and I had to drive through snow storms or ice covered roads. Obviously, it doesn’t happen all the time, but thinking about your options and preparing your self and your vehicle helps tremendously. We all depend upon contractors to save our butts when their sevice is required and waiting till tomorrow is no option. My hat goes off to you and everyone who must travel.
Like the add used to say, " ever wonder how the guy who plows the snow, gets to the plow?"

I used to be the on-call guy. I drove through blizzards and other fun to change hard drives and fix other problems on mission-critical systems a few times and all I can say anymore is “It can wait.” This moment of clarity came to me when I saw a semi start to lose it and jackknife next to me on my way back from one of these adventures. Maybe I’m just getting old :slight_smile:

@ barkydog
Good suggestions but you need to think about yourself as well. Have an extra set of clothes with you, (if you get soggy because of the snow great to change into dry ones) blanket, hand warmer packages, extra flashlight with an emergency flasher on it. Oh and some extra food, maybe proteinbars. Thermos of hot tea or coffee. I am sure others will add to this list…

Stick to the right lane, slow down, keep a good distance from other cars, and no quick moves. More than once though, I just left the night before when driving was good. An extra hotel night is cheap in comparison.

I was a tractor trailer driver running out of Buffalo NY for various union freight companies. The only time we got to stay home was if the roads were officialy closed. In 40 years it might have happened 6 times.

Never cared for ABS(must be safer by general consensus-most people dont understand how it works) never did like the way it increased my stopping didtance in bad conditions,so many drifts this morning,I wont be going out anyway(I feel for you Barky Dog,I guess you knew the job was dagerous when you took it) ABS was first made for aircraft a long time ago to keep them on the runway during bad conditions anyrate,slow down and live when its bad.Back in the late 70s when antilock brakes were mandated on big trucks they were horribly dangerous,finally they got the bugs out-but still they are only a supplement to careful driving-Kevin

My biggest tip would be to stay in your freaking car. People get stuck in traffic or get into a wreck in the snow, and the first thing they do is get out and wander around on the highway. Don’t do that. You’ll get run over by the guy who can’t stop in time.