This morning started off cloudy and cold, and as the day progressed, we started getting snow. By lunch time, there was a decent amount of snow, but it wasn’t sticking to the street. By end of the day, it was sticking to the streets, and traffic was moving really slow. It took me two hours to get from Rochester to home.
I made the mistake of stopping at Lowe’s on the way home. The traffic was a steady stream on 31 and getting out of Lowe’s appeared to be an impossibility when making a left turn on to 31. So, I turned right, went west for a while, and then turned left in to a parking lot so I could loop back around and turn right on to 31. That worked, but it still took a while to find a break in traffic.
If you ever saw the movie Cars, The old Hudson Hornet tells Lightning McQueen that when driving on dirt you need to turn right to go left, and left to go right. It’s called counter-steering, and it is true at high speeds on slippery surfaces. (Cars over simplified the technique, but it is true. There is a point when you must steer in the opposite direction of your turn.) I saw a great demonstration of this on I-490 tonight. The roads were really slick, and some lady in a bright yellow Mazda comes up on my right blind-spot trying to merge in. When she noticed me, she gunned it and turned right to move away from me. Her car went left.
I let up off the gas to allow room for her car. She gave her car more gas. Now, her front wheels are aimed to the right, but she is now moving quickly to the left and her accelerating is causing her car to move more to the left.
I wish I could have got that on video, it was such a good example of two things. 1) stupid driving (because she obviously did not mean to cut me off, but she did), and 2) counter-steering.
Eventually, she let up off the gas to avoid hitting the car in front of us. Once her car dropped to a speed below the coefficient of the friction of the ice, her tires bit and she moved in the direction her tires were aimed.
Don’t practice counter-steering on the freeway during rush hour. For that matter, don’t practice it on the freeway. I learned in a huge parking lot set up for the California Highway Patrol. It was the practice course. My buddies and I would sneak in at night with my parent’s Ford Pinto. And, even at that, I came real close to sliding in to a lamppost a time or two.
Here’s a reference for you to read about the technique: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposite_lock