Hazards of a drive around Washington
Returning from a trip on some of the major roads of Virginia and Maryland, I offer this priority to replace turning on headlights and clearing off roofs: windshield washer fluid.
As the snow melts during the day and leaves a salty, sandy mix on the pavement, drivers can't go more than the length of a football field without building up a fine coating of grit across the windshield. We have occasional patches of bright sunlight that can severely limit visibility if that glass doesn't get cleared off quickly.
Other than that, the chief road hazards remain snow piles and shoppers. Road crews are out on the Beltway and other main roads removing some of the snow that has blocked lanes and ramps. In doing this necessary work, they are creating their own traffic jams. If you find yourself in congestion on an Interstate this afternoon, that's very likely the cause.
A good reason to go slow on purpose: The snow piles can severely limit your view when turning or merging into another road. This may not dawn on you till the last second, as you get into the turn. If you're going slowly to begin with, you and the other driver -- or pedestrian -- have a better chance.
Speaking of pedestrians: You're going to find them on the roads in the suburbs. They can't walk on the sidewalks, not without snow shoes. And they aren't necessarily doing the correct thing and facing the traffic as they walk. If someone veers left ahead of you, it may well be to dodge a person walking in the travel lane. Another reason to slow down.
December 22, 2009; 1:51 PM ET
Categories: Driving , Safety , Weather | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, snow, travel tips
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