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Snow well-behaved, but not some drivers

university blvd.jpg
Noon hour traffic in deep snow on University Boulevard in Silver Spring. (Thomson)

Getting out in the snow so you won't have to, I return convinced that I will never hesitate to offer the simplest, most duh advice before every storm. This storm, while intense, is quite well-behaved. Light weight and easy to shovel. (Or so the Grid Spouse tells me.)

It's the drivers I worry about. To be safe, more should:
-- Slow down. Drive like there's an egg between your foot and the pedal. The depth of the snow and the degree of plowing varies considerably from road to road, or from lane to lane. Pedestrians have even more trouble seeing than you do and are moving slowly.
-- Turn the lights on. People are pretty good about this today, but there are some slackers. Right now, the snow is fine and there's lots of it in the air, making it difficult to see. The road surface if often just as white as the sidewalks and the side streets. Later, when the plows start to win, the snow banks will be discolored by sand, forming a clear boundary. Not now.
-- Slow way down for turns. Many drivers are overestimating their safe turning speeds, especially when coming from a main road to a side road, where the snow is deeper.
-- Carry stuff for when you get stuck. It's amazing how little effort it takes to really wedge yourself into a snowy street. Have a bag of sand or kitty litter and a shovel. In a bad case, you can use your floor mat under a drive wheel to get a grip.

inner loop.jpg Light traffic on Beltway inner loop. (Thomson)

I met a driver trying to get out of a rut in a side street off University Boulevard in Silver Spring. He had made it that far from Baltimore without any trouble, he said.

Now he was stuck in a most undramatic way. No snow bank, no deep rut. It was just a little angle and a little icy patch that held him fast for about 15 minutes of rocking till he broke free and returned to the relatively easier travel on University Boulevard.

At midday, "easy" is a relative term everywhere in the Washington region. The Capital Beltway, visible to me from an overpass in Silver Spring, was as white as a frozen river. Only a few cars passed by on either loop. (That's good. It makes no sense to be out now.) The Beltway and University had been plowed -- I saw the plows make a pass on University -- but the snow is falling so rapidly that their work was quickly covered over.

Road Essentials: Incident Map | Traffic Cams | Key Routes

By Robert Thomson  |  December 19, 2009; 1:22 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, snow, travel tips  
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Comments

Why are the police even letting people drive in this? If you really want to get somewhere, take Metro or walk. Too many people are forgetting how deadly an automobile can be when you lose control of it.

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | December 19, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

While those are good bit of advice, it's also wise to leave LOTS of space between yourself and other drivers in all directions.

Posted by: kolbkl | December 19, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Agree with both posters. Police should declare an emergency with NO cars on the road unless you have a medical emergency or work for an essential service, such as fire, police, or a hospital. Everybody else, STAY HOME.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 19, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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