Michael Olson’s post in this space yesterday got me to thinking about the hazards of Interstate Hwy. 35 in bad weather. I make the drive to Duluth fairly often, and even a little bit of freezy slush seems to be enough to send cars into the ditch. There’s an elevated curve near Barnum, for example, that’s scary on a warm dry day.
Three Saturdays ago I was heading south out of Duluth just as the snow started up. Cars were in the ditch left and right. One poor soul had gone off the road, into the ditch and up the bank, coming to rest upside down among the trees. A drive that normally takes me under two and a half hours lasted more than five.
My friend Wayne Lee teaches driving skills for a car club, and he offers this advice:
“No. 1, don’t stop driving. If you’re out of control and going into the ditch, then drive into the ditch. Keep control of your car. No. 2, don’t overreact. Remain calm and keep driving.
“Another thing people don’t realize is there’s more than one pedal. There’s an accelerator. I can choose to drive out of the ditch by putting the gas on.”
Another time, Wayne told me that many accidents happen because drivers who can’t stop forget that they have the option to steer. It’s better, he said, to cross a line painted on the pavement than to just plow into the car ahead of you. That particular advice, simple as it sounds, saved me on that recent Saturday.
Here’s a video to get us thinking about our winter driving skills. Note: Don’t attempt to videotape other cars while driving.