In Utah we are experiencing a phenomenon called freezing rain. This happens when snow falls through a warm layer of air and melts into rain, then that rain goes through a layer of colder air and lands on a surface that is below freezing. The rain is supercooled and freezes instantly onto whatever it hits. If that surface happens to be the road, then it’s an ice skating rink.
Contrary to popular testosterone-filled belief. 4 wheel drive vehicles do NOT make any difference at all in this situation. When there is ice on the road there is very little, if any, friction or resistance to keep the tires where they should be. Ice is no respecter of persons or the vehicles they drive.
So back to my number one tip for Driving in Freezing Rain conditions:
If you are aware of freezing rain conditions, stay home. If you were going somewhere and were told that the road would be covered with ball bearings all along your path, you wouldn’t go right? You’d wait until you were told that the ball bearings had been removed and it was again safe to drive. Freezing rain is no different. Well I guess it’s a bit different in that you’d be able to see where the ball bearings were.
Reducing speeds also has little effect on slick conditions…it just means that you slide slower. So it’s best just to wait until conditions change.
If you didn’t follow rule number 1 and find yourself in freezing rain conditions and you are lucky enough to not be smashed into a guardrail yet, the smart thing to do would be to carefully pull off the roadway as far as you can and wait. If you can exit your car safely and get to a safe location, do so. A safe location would be a home or business, or at the very least, on the other side of a concrete barrier. But remember if there is freezing rain it’s going to be cold out there. Do not get out of and just stand by your car, chances are that another car will see you, hit their brakes and slide into you.
If you stay in your car, keep your seat belts fastened. If you’re going to get hit, you might as well be safely fastened in.
Here’s an explanation from a weather gal. I got pretty close in my description above.
Just so you see what I mean about being hit by standing outside your car, I’ve include some visuals for you.
That fellow at 2:39 would do well to get away from the patch that is collecting crumpled cars.
This one is pretty interesting how everyone thinks that they are the ones who can make it.
Back to reality folks. This is not a laughing matter. My husband and many other LEO’s like him are out on the roads picking up the pieces of those who didn’t heed this warning not to drive in Freezing rain conditions, at best you won’t get to your destination and at worst you’re putting your life and the lives of others are in danger.
Just stay home or at the office or wherever you are, Stay Put! It really won’t last forever.