Spring has Sprung! Or, has it?

Last week we saw the news of horrific crashes on I-80 in Wyoming. There was a tragic loss of life and we send our condolences to the families of those that were killed. Many suffered injuries, some of which were serious and will impact the lives of those drivers and their families for a long time to come. There was also a disruption in interstate commerce and transportation that reached into surrounding states. These crashes were terrible events on a grand scale.

We all need to remember that although much of our country is experiencing nicer weather and better driving conditions we may still experience winter storms. Many drivers have taken their winter tires off and mounted their summer tires. Many more have simply changed into ‘summer mode’ in their driving habits and expectations.

If you have switched to summer tires remember a few things when the weather turns bad. First, you have become accustomed to having decent grip in bad weather because of your winter tires, these summer tire tread patterns will not perform the same. Second, the rubber compound of a summer tire may not get warm enough to have good grip when the temperatures are cold – even temp.s in the thirties can negatively affect grip. So, if it gets cold and especially if you have freezing rain or snow – ADJUST to the conditions AND to your summer tires. You need to significantly increase your following distance as well as the space cushion to the sides and rear of your vehicle. Take the three seconds following distance you should normally have and double it for rain and double it AGAIN for snow. (That would be twelve seconds for those of us that are mathematically challenged) When negotiating a turn or curve do so at lower speeds and begin braking much sooner than you would have with your winter tires on.

You, as the driver, are the ultimate management system and safety system in the car. You need to be able to switch between ‘winter mode’ and ‘summer mode’ in your driving style. You are more cautious and aware of ‘traction sensing’ in the winter. You have a tendency to be more relaxed and complacent in the summer. We won’t take the time to dive into those modes this week but be aware that you drive differently in different seasons. Please be conscious of your ‘mode’ when the conditions get bad and adjust and adapt immediately. You would rather be more cautious than necessary than to be sliding at speed into a multi-vehicle pile up. Lastly, even when YOU are driving in the proper ‘mode’ the people around you may not have read this blog and they may be driving in the wrong ‘season’. Watch for them and defend yourself, your biggest threat may be the drivers you share the road with.

Be smooth, be aware and be intentional in your driving.