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Another near accident. Learn to drive in the snow people!
Yesterday morning, after all the snow in the northeast (greatly exagerated in some areas, there were only 3-4" in the New Haven area) I was driving a couple co-workers to the client site in a Saturn Outlook (large, heavy, 7 passenger SUV with front wheel drive). I took my exit, a long sweeping cloverleaf ramp, behind three other cars going about 30.

Car 1, an old red compact, got a little wiggly and slammed on her brakes until she came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. Obviously, that exacerbated the situation instead of helping.

Car 2 had no choice but to brake and veer to the right to avoid a collision. They actually did an ok job, avoiding Car 1 and coming to a controlled stop on the shoulder.

Car 3 also slammed on their brakes, but swerved violently to the left causing the car's rear end to skid. The car slid to a stop, inches from the guard rail, perpendicular to the road, right in front of me.

So what was I to do? Obviously I hit the brakes, instantaneously setting off the ABS. With such a freaking large vehicle I knew there was no way I could stop. With Car 3 heading to the left and Car 2 heading to the right, I saw an opening.

I released the brake so I wouldn't skid and eased the steering wheel to the right and drove around Car 3, then turned back to the left, hugging the guard rail and quickly drove around Car 2 and Car 1.

While it wasn't as dramatic as my last near accident, my heart was beating pretty hard, though I didn't have any cool time-slowing-down effect. My co-workers complimented my quick thinking and we continued on our way.

A couple quick tips for anyone in a similar situation:
  • No sudden braking, you'll lock the tires and lose control (Car 1). Go easy on the brakes and don't expect ABS to save you since it is only marginally effective in low traction situations.
  • No sudden steering, you'll upset the car's balance and lose control (Car 3). Turn smoothly to help the car along the turn.
  • Your car is probably more capable of turning than braking, so evaluate options such as going around an obstacle instead of trying to stop (Car 2 and myself), keeping in mind the previous tip.
  • If you do lose a little traction, don't panic (Car 1). Instead, brake and steer lightly to maintain control and come to an easy and controlled stop in a safe place. The middle of the road is not a safe place.

Posted 02/12/2010 04:34 PM in Cars, Ramblings, Travel | Total Comments: (1)
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Nice recovery
That's some quick thinking (muscle memory?) there, buddy. Thanks for sharing that great driving takeaway!
Submitted by Dan on 02/12/2010 06:56 PM

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