Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Hazard of Winter Driving

I'm back from sunny SoCal only to wake up to 2 feet of snow and blizzard conditions in Long Island. While us upstate natives call this a "dusting", its usually cause for panic amongst metro NY drivers. It is also a very good time to tell my fellow commuters CLEAN THE SNOW OFF YOUR DAMN ROOF!

I always see this for a few days after a heavy snow- People leave a mass of snow on top of their car, only to have it ice up and then fly off into unsuspecting motorists at highway speed. I have personally felt this, as a few years ago I was hit with an ice ball that shattered my windshield at about 60 MPH.  OK, I understand if you drive an 18 wheeler where the issues might be, but for those of you with SUV's, and even smaller passenger cars, it amounts to laziness. Laziness that could be deadly for your fellow motorists.

Did you know its also the law now? NJ just passed it as a state law that roofs must be cleaned off, (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/10/nj_to_require_snow_ice_to_be_r.html) and in NY, if snow and ice fly off your car, you are responsible for damages incurred to other drivers vehicles.

I have also noticed a few hotspots to be extra cautions of falling snow and ice. On the inbound GWB, right as it enters the CBX, this is when trucks usually get up to highway speed, and an updraft will almost always result  in ice and snow flying off, even into the outbound lanes. Additional areas to watch out for are around rest areas where trucks sit for the night, and then pull on to the highway. alos, on ramps in general are where most issues happen, as cars get up to speed.

So what do you do if you see an iceberg headed for you? Try and anticipate its travel path. Typically, it will fly straight back, and if the winds catching it, you might be able to accelerate under it. Swerving should be kept to a minimum, as road conditions are usually sandy or icy and not fit for high speed evasive maneuvers. Usually, the better move is to the right, because if it does angle, it will usually go left. (I have no idea why this is, scientifically.)

But as always, the best evasive maneuver is awareness. take the time to scan ahead for cars and trucks that are potential threats, and get ahead or far behind them.